MONTREAL, Feb. 6, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - The Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control is applauding the French government's decision to ban various tobacco brand names and, bolstered by the support of 200 Quebec organizations, is asking Canada's Minister of Health, Jane Philpott, to include the same provisions in its regulations on plain and standardized tobacco packaging.
Under a national directive adopted last August, and following the implementation of plain packaging for all tobacco products, France's Minister of Health Marisol Touraine announced that she will refuse to give the green light to the continued sale of certain cigarette and cigar products whose brand names have unacceptably positive connotations. These include "Vogue," "Fine," "Allure," "Corset," "Café crème," "Paradiso" and "Punch." Also banned from tobacco packaging are terms associated with slenderness (e.g., "Slims," "Superslims," "Royale Super Slims Menthol") or energy enhancement (e.g., "Pall Mall Boost"), or that suggest that the product is natural, organic (e.g., "Allure Organic Superslim") or biodegradable (e.g., "Gauloise Biodégradable"). "Some brand names will no longer be permitted, including those that are attractive or that suggest that smoking is chic, as this clearly goes against the spirit of plain packaging," said Minister Touraine. [Our translation] (A transition period will allow manufacturers to continue selling cigarettes with these names for one more year and cigars with these names for two more years.)
After Australia introduced plain packaging in December 2012, manufacturers began changing their brand names by including the name of colours formerly associated with the brand, such as "Marlboro Red" and "Marlboro Silver Fine Scent." Unless Canada includes strong restrictions on brand names and other descriptive texts in its packaging regulations, one can also expect similar strategies to be deployed once plain packaging is adopted here.
France, an example to follow
For years, the health groups have condemned the fact that, despite bans on conventional advertising, the tobacco industry still manages to create "lifestyle" advertising by using the cigarette pack as a promotional vehicle. Packs are enhanced with brand names and imagery, slogans and other terms such as "Signature," "Distinct," "Balanced," "Mellow Taste" and "De Luxe." The Quebec Coalition even lodged a complaint back in 2009 following the introduction of "Vogue" cigarettes in Canada.
"Using descriptive terms that have positive—and often seductive—connotations is a widespread tobacco industry marketing tactic. In addition, some terms found on packages continue to perpetuate false perceptions regarding relative risks among brands, perceptions that were previously created and fueled by the use of the terms 'light' and 'mild', terms that are currently explicitly prohibited," said Flory Doucas, Co-Director and Spokesperson for the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, an anti-tobacco group founded in 1996. "It is therefore rather surprising that in its consultation document on the proposed regulations concerning plain packaging, Health Canada did not include the option of further regulating brand names beyond limiting the number of words they can contain that is."
Support across Quebec for plain packaging and restrictions on brand names
The Coalition today published a list of 200 groups from the health, municipal and educational sectors that are calling for a ban on "all promotional features on all tobacco packaging, including the use of colours, images, logos, slogans, distinctive fonts and finishes." The groups are also requesting that the appearance of cigarettes be standardized to prohibit "the use of branding, logos, colours and special finishes, and establishing standards for cigarette length and diameter." Finally, they specified that "only the brand name would be permitted, and it too would be subject to restrictions."
"Restrictions on brand names could take several forms," explained Flory Doucas, the Coalition's spokesperson. "They could ban terms with positive connotations, as is the case in France and outlined in the European Commission's Tobacco Products Directive. The restrictions could also prohibit brand variants, as they do in Uruguay. Just as other jurisdictions have shown their leadership, Canada too needs to look for solutions to ban all promotional elements for a product that serves no purpose, creates a powerful addiction and ultimately kills the majority of its regular users," concluded Doucas.
Click here to see the list of 200 Quebec organizations that endorsed plain and standardized packaging. The list includes the City of Montreal, regional public health department from across the province, the Quebec College of Family Physicians, the Quebec Order of Respiratory Therapists and major charitable organizations involved in the fight against tobacco, including the Quebec Lung Association, the Quebec Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Quebec Division of the Canadian Cancer Society.
Here is a PDF version of the press release, with references included:
SOURCE Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac
For further information: Flory Doucas, Co-Director and Spokesperson; 514-598-5533; 514-515-6780 (cell)