Imperial Tobacco ‘shocked’ by Health Canada’s proposed package regulations

Company says there are ‘a number of provisions that are basically impossible’

Imperial Tobacco says Health Canada’s proposed plain packaging regulations for cigarettes are confusing and warns it may have to go to court if changes aren’t made.

Eric Gagnon, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada, says his organization is “shocked and confused” by the proposed regulations.

“There’s a number of provisions that are basically impossible to comply with,” Gagnon said Monday.

Health Canada published its draft regulations last week and opened a 75-day consultation period for people to provide written submissions on its proposed changes to cigarette packages, which aim to make them drab, unattractive and unappealing to youth.

The proposed measures would also restrict how brand names are displayed and would require all tobacco packages to be the same colour.

“We still cannot understand how this government can justify legalizing marijuana while imposing such extreme measures on tobacco products. We feel that the discrepancy is really astonishing,” said Gagnon.

One of the regulations Gagnon is taking issue with is a proposal to axe flip-top packaging and return to old-school “slide-and-shell” packs — a change that would take at least two years because of a need to build new machines to retool for a new format.

READ MORE: Ottawa ushers in new rules for e-cigarettes

Meanwhile, he said, Health Canada is asking tobacco companies to comply with the new regulations six months after they come into force, a deadline he called “impossible.”

According to Health Canada, requiring every pack of cigarettes to have the same shape, size and opening could minimize their appeal to young people. Young adults in Australia, for instance, found wider packs similar to the Canadian slide-and-shell design less appealing than the flip-top version, the agency says.

Gagnon said Imperial Tobacco will raise its concerns during the consultation period and hopes they’re considered — otherwise it may have to go to court.

“Going to court with the government is never something that we want to do or something we take easily, but if we don’t get heard I think it’s one of the options that we will have to consider.”

Peter Luongo, managing director of Rothmans Benson & Hedges, said he’s meeting with officials from the Tobacco Control branch of Health Canada on Tuesday to tell them their timeline is “unrealistic.”

Luongo said there are not enough machines to make the new design and to support the market, so the timeline is “extremely tight, if not impossible.”

But his company’s primary concern is that Health Canada is prepared to insist plain packaging be applied to all tobacco products.

“The packaging will be the same and there are other provisions … that prohibit us from properly communicating the health differences between the products.”

Luongo said his organization would like to see anyone who uses nicotine switch to options that are less risky than cigarettes, such as so-called heat-not-burn products.

“We would like to get to a smoke-free future in Canada as quickly as possible and we’re just hopeful the regulations will support that vision.”

Meanwhile, the proposed regulations have health organizations cheering the federal government.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, called the changes “the best in the world.”

The consultations will run until Sept. 6, 2018.

Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bill passes to make Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

100 Mile House Wranglers eliminated from KIJHL playoffs

Second year in a row the team has been eliminated by the Revelstoke Grizzlies

A section of North Bonaparte Road has flooded in Pressy Lake area

The flooding is approximately 17-30 kilometres east of 70 Mile House.

Prescribed burns to take place around Lytton, Spences Bridge

BC Wildfire Service will only conduct burns if conditions permit

IT’S OFFICIAL: Mt. Timothy sale complete

New owners looking toward year-round mountain resort facility

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Teacher reprimanded for conduct towards special needs student

Alan Stephen Berry told vice principal he did not have time to use positive strategies

‘Full worm super moon’ to illuminate B.C. skies on first day of spring

Spring has sprung, a moon named in honour of thawing soil marks final super moon until 2020

Having phone within sight while driving does not violate law: B.C. judge

The mere presence of a cell phone within sight of a driver is not enough for a conviction, judge says

Woman punched on the sidelines of B.C. soccer game

Both involved were watching the U21 game in West Vancouver from the sidelines when things got heated

Most Read