Exempt Cigars from Plain Packaging. Keep writing your Member of Parliament in Canada.

Public input for Plain & Standardize Packaging for Tobacco products in Canada was closed on September 6, 2018.
However, we can – and should – continue to contact our elected officials on what they call: PSA – Plain and Standardized Appearance. 

I beseech you, write your Member of Parliament (MP) expressing your stand that premium Cigars be exempted from Plain & Standardized Packaging.

Attached is a letter from Tim I. that was sent to Parliament Hill.
Tim is a cigar enthusiast who resides in Alberta.
He has graciously given @CigarHerf permission to have his letters to & from Parliament Hill made public on this website. His last name has been replaced by initial only.
This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished by taking time to send a personal letter to the government officials:

Dear Mr. Van Loon;
Thank you for your timely reply. I have indeed sent my comments previously via the public consultation process, and also shared with my MP for Sherwood Park- Fort Saskatchewan.

I understand and appreciate that Health Canada has its funded mandate and advocates against the varying risks with tobacco use. The opportunity to be consulted and provide feedback is appreciated, albeit the duration and the timing in Parliament did not maximize such an opportunity.

I am not advocating that tobacco, especially cigarettes, doesn’t have inherent risks, but question the utility and effectiveness of Bill S-5 and PSA. The reasoning behind the extent that PSA will decrease a person’s health risk is not clear, especially in relation to cigars. Neither the UK or Australia, two countries that have introduced PSA, have statistics that clearly indicate such success.

As a responsible adult who appreciates the aesthetic and the security features of a premium cigar, PSA will not only impact the ability for a customer to choose, but will massively reduce these imported products into Canada because international wholesalers won’t or can’t meet PSA criteria and will simply no longer ship their product. This factor alone will be devastating to most Canadian small business retailers and result in possibly a 50% closure of these small businesses (based on GOC/Health Canada’s own estimates).

The opportunity for fraud includes the issue of security features embedded in boxes and labels that retailers and customers can use to determine legitimacy of the product, such as holograms on Cuban cigar labels. PSA will make it impossible to determine real from fake.

Premium cigar stores in Canada are mainly small ‘mom and pop’ stores that have invested a great deal of time and money to install a humidor, and learn the art and history behind the leaves grown by family farms in Central America. These imported and heavily taxed premium products in Canada represent less than 1% of the overall tobacco market. They are not attractive to youth due to price and availability, and for most adults they are a hobby in partaking and collecting. PSA for cigars is unnecessary and will cause negative economic impacts.

Your letter’s statement that “… For this reason, the proposed plain and standardized appearance measures apply to all tobacco products, including cigars…” implies PSA will be a health benefit to adults and youth, which is not proven. It also implies PSA to include cigars has essentially been decided. I hope not.

Cigars aren’t cigarettes. When PSA was implemented in the UK, these and other factors were considered and an exemption of PSA to cigars was rightfully granted. An exemption to premium tobacco as part of Bill S-5 is a legitimate proposal.

Tim I.

… And because governments benefit from being completely transparent, the comments from James Van Loon, which precipitated Tim’s letter, are below:

Dear Tim I.
Thank you for the email you sent on July 31, 2018, addressed to the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, concerning issues related to the treatment of cigars in the proposed Tobacco Products Regulations (Plain and Standardized Appearance). I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Minister.
Health Canada is committed to advancing the Minister’s mandate letter commitment of completing the introduction of plain packaging requirements for tobacco products. On June 23, 2018, the Minister of Health announced the launch of a 75-day public consultation on the proposed regulations through publication in Canada Gazette, Part I.
The evidence on the dangers of using tobacco is clear. Exposure to tobacco increases a person’s risk of developing cancer or other life-threatening diseases. For this reason, the proposed plain and standardized appearance measures apply to all tobacco products, including cigars.
With respect to the objectives of the proposed PSA Regulations, I should point out that plain and standardized appearance measures are intended to reduce the appeal of all tobacco products, particularly, but not only, to youth.
With respect to your concern about fraud and illegal imports, please be assured that the Government of Canada takes the issue of illicit tobacco seriously and supports the fight against contraband and counterfeit tobacco products through collaborative efforts with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Canada Revenue Agency and Public Safety Canada. Also, tobacco packages sold in Canada will continue to require the display of health warnings, and tax stamps, which provide both overt and covert security features.
I appreciate you writing on this important issue. Giving that a public consultation is currently underway, I would encourage you to submit your comments on the proposed regulations through the public consultation process to hc.pregs.sc@canada.ca by the September 6, 2018 closing date. Consideration will be given to all views and evidence submitted.

Yours sincerely,
James Van Loon, Director General
Tobacco Control Directorate
Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch
Health Canada

Keep sending your comments to the Hill.
We need to protect premium #cigars!

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