Ontario NDP in bed with Big Tobacco - About Bill 149

MONTREAL, March 3, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The government of Ontario currently has before the Legislative Assembly a Bill (131) that would come to unjustifiably and without warrant ban the sale of legitimate flavoured tobacco products in the province. As thousands of legitimate private stakeholders attempt to secure a fair and meaningful opportunity to bring to the table clear, government-based (Health Canada) evidence that the proposed ban is based on an outright lie - an NDP member is working feverishly behind the scenes trying to pull a fast-one on Ontarians, says Luc Martial, VP Government Affairs of Casa Cubana.

Let's not forget that Health Canada data (Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey and the Youth Smoking Survey) clearly confirms that:

- There are approximately 800,000 legal-age consumers of little cigar products in Canada (flavoured and unflavoured).
   
- 94% of the market for our flavoured little cigar products (e.g. Prime Time, Bullseye) is adult-driven.
   
- The majority of our flavoured tobacco consumers are over the age of 25.
   
- The kids who do unfortunately find illegal access to our flavoured tobacco products - get their illegal access through friends and family members (75%).
   
- Flavours in tobacco do not entice or encourage kids into becoming smokers. If a kid is not already a tobacco smoker (cigarettes), there is virtually zero chance that he or she ever will "try" a flavoured tobacco product.
   
- The tobacco product of choice among kids is by far (non-flavoured) cigarettes.
   
- The flavour of choice among kids who "try" a flavoured tobacco product is by far MENTHOL.
   

NDP Party member France Gélinas (Nickel Belt) has introduced her own Private Member's Bill 149 - Health Statute Law Amendment Act (Healthy Decisions Made Easy), 2014. Cloaked within this more subtle initiative aimed at "healthier decisions" and focussed on commendable value-added nutritional information (on food products) for consumers - Ms. Gélinas is attempting to get her campaign against flavoured tobacco products quickly sanctioned and legislatively approved while everyone is looking elsewhere.

Bill 149 passed 2nd Reading on February 20th and was subsequently referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly. Bill 149 would come to ban all flavours in all tobacco products - except for Menthol. Absurdly enough, Ms. Gélinas wants to protect the sale of the only flavour in tobacco which kids are clearly and greatly attracted to (Menthol) - while banning every other flavour for which absolutely no information is available.

It is also worth noting that Ms. Gélinas' Bill 149 would simply come to channel our current, legal-age-verified flavoured tobacco customers into the waiting hands of Big Tobacco. Why is the NDP so intent on doing a big favour for big tobacco? The answer is simple and obvious - by publicly allowing the Big Tobacco companies to keep selling menthol cigarettes (the product and flavour of choice among kids who try flavoured tobacco products), Ms. Gélinas knows that she can expect their support for (no opposition to) her Bill aimed at destroying the legitimate, easier-to-pick-on, niche-market tobacco companies (their competitors). It's a win-win for the NDP and Big Tobacco.

While we can certainly appreciate how politically difficult it is for any politician to even question the merit of any proposed tobacco control initiative - without appearing to support tobacco or smoking - we would suggest that this issue and this Bill speaks to an even greater and more pressing matter of public accountability in government.

Casa Cubana is a Montreal-based importer of quality cigar products (flavoured and unflavoured). Established in 1998, the company's reach extends throughout Canada with a sales force servicing approximately 10,000+ direct accounts - to include wholesalers, retail chains, independent retailers, gas bars, grocery stores and the duty-free channel. In Ontario, the company distributes its products through more than 2,000 licenced retail/wholesale provincial partners.

SOURCE Casa Cubana

For further information:

Luc Martial
VP Government Affairs
Cell: (819) 743-9140