Proposed Legislation to Ban Flavours in Tobacco will Hurt Canadians and the Economy



    OTTAWA, May 26 /CNW Telbec/ - At a media conference held today in Ottawa,
by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, the government expressed its interest in
banning flavoured tobacco products. This initiative that purports to want to
protect children and youth, however, is dangerously misguided and will come to
cause significant and irrevocable harm to both public health and our economy.
    It was quite obvious, further to Minister Aglukkaq's presentation today,
that she has absolutely no understanding of tobacco or tobacco control.
Basking in the warm comfort and glow of well-respected health agencies and
fearless paid-to-hate anti-tobacco groups - it appears that the absence of
truth and fact, unfortunately, is of no concern to the Minister. The
Minister's presentation was obviously lacking details as to what the
government hopes to achieve for two reasons: (1) the government has no
relevant details about the product, the market or the industry to provide to
the public and (2) actually undertaking this research to obtain such details
would force the government to publicly admit that flavoured tobacco products
are essentially not an issue in this country as they represent less than 0.5%
of all tobacco products consumed in Canada and that traditional non-flavoured
cigarettes remain by far the product of choice among Canadians and Canadian
youth.
    Much of what has been publicly promoted by anti-tobacco extremist groups
in Canada, about flavoured little cigars / cigarillos, their market and the
industry - is tantamount to an outright lie. At the very least it is a gross
misrepresentation of the facts which are available, says Luc Martial (in
charge of government affairs with Casa Cubana and formerly with the
Non-Smokers' Rights Association, the Canadian Council on Smoking and Health,
the National Clearinghouse on Tobacco and Health, and the Tobacco Control
Programme at Health Canada). As an 18 year veteran to the tobacco control file
in Canada, this is probably the most egregious example of the lack of honesty,
integrity and accountability I have ever seen in the tobacco control movement
specifically and in government in general, says Mr. Martial.
    Health Canada clearly knows and admitted to us at a meeting last week
that the vast majority (91%) of Canadians who consume little cigars /
cigarillos (plain or flavoured) are of legal age to do so and the majority is
over the age of 25. Are minors getting illegal access to cigarillos?
Unfortunately, yes. But Minors are getting much greater illegal access to
traditional non-flavoured cigarettes, flavoured alcohol, gambling and
marijuana products, and no one is remotely suggesting that we ban cigarettes,
flavours in alcohol or government gambling/gaming products as a result.
    This proposed legislation is not about health, says Mr. Martial. That's
why the government will never commit to any specific health objectives it
hopes to achieve. This is about Health Canada reaching dangerously beyond
their mandate to inform and educate the public, effectively forcing lifestyle
decisions on legal-age Canadians.
    If legislated into law, the government's proposal to essentially ban
flavoured little cigars/cigarillos would come to cause, not solve, problems.

    
    - Banning these products will have no impact on youth access to tobacco
      or their decision to start smoking. Interestingly enough, this
      longstanding conventional wisdom in tobacco control (regarding
      prohibition) has long been acknowledged by the Health Minister's own
      "experts" on tobacco control (Ministerial Advisory Council on Tobacco
      Control). More to this point, we will likely see more people smoking
      more tobacco as a result of this legislation.
    - Banning these products will come to provide for an environment whereby
      much more, much cheaper and less controlled flavoured tobacco products
      will find their way into the hands of Canadian smokers - specifically
      youth. Subsequently, more Canadians will come to engage in what they
      already feel is an acceptable level of criminality that will have
      irrevocable and far reaching implications in our economy / society.
    - Banning these products will have no impact on those currently breaking
      the law and illegally furnishing tobacco products to kids. Friends,
      peers, family members and those involved in the contraband trade will
      not in the least be impacted by the government's proposed legislation.
    - Banning these products will intentionally deprive Canadian governments
      of tens of millions of dollars in current, legitimate government
      revenues from the legal sale of legitimate tobacco products to legal-
      age Canadians.
    - Banning these products will directly undermine the legitimate business
      activities of tens of thousands of law abiding, tax-paying business
      owners across this country - destroying thousands of legitimate jobs in
      the wake.
    - Banning these products will significantly undermine the rights of
      hundreds of thousands of legal age consumers in Canada who will have
      since exercised their right to consume tobacco products.
    - Banning these products will essentially provide exclusive market rights
      to flavoured tobacco products to Natives companies currently
      manufacturing such products and criminal groups involved in the
      contraband trade. It is worth noting that the RCMP has long
      acknowledged that they cannot stop, let alone control these networks.
    - Banning these products will provide a unique and powerful economic
      stimulus to violent criminal networks across Canada currently involved
      in drugs and weapons trafficking.
    

    At a time in our history when legitimate government revenues and
legitimate Canadian jobs are at a premium, one would think that the federal
government would be concerned about introducing what is without question
purely anti-business legislation that will provide for no real health benefit.
    Over the last year, Casa Cubana has sustainably tried to get federal
politicians to support its call to Health Canada to actually undertake
research on flavoured cigarillos, their market and the industry in Canada. The
fact remains, as was confirmed in a recent meeting held with the Tobacco
Control Programme at Health Canada that the government has absolutely no
research with regard to which products minors are actually consuming, in what
quantities, which frequencies and / or their origin. More than this, the
government is not planning on doing any research - because while the market is
relevant enough for them to "think" there is a threat, it is not big enough to
justify actually spending any time or money in confirming if this "thought" is
valid.
    Casa Cubana is once again calling on the federal government to hold
itself accountable to Canadians by effectively undertaking specific research
on these products, their market and the industry prior to introducing any
legislation.

    Casa Cubana is a Montreal-based importer of quality cigar products.
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. Since 2003, the company has imported and
distributed a variety of flavored cigarillos, to become a relevant and
knowledgeable stakeholder in this marketplace.




For further information:

For further information: Media: Luc Martial, (819) 682-2352, Cell: (819)
743-9140

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Casa Cubana

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