Proposed plain packaging regulations for tobacco set dangerous precedent and
put consumers at risk
OTTAWA, June 29, 2018 /CNW/ - The Consumers' Association of Canada (CAC) is calling on the federal Minister of Health to rein in her Department and put an end to its war on consumer rights, as most recently evidenced by proposed plain packaging regulations for tobacco products and the standardization of cigarettes. The draft regulations were published by Health Canada on June 22.
"The CAC has taken a principled position against the plain packaging of any product because it fundamentally undermines the consumer's right to easily identify their preferred brand of a product and to have assurances that what they are buying is not counterfeit," stated Bruce Cran, President of the CAC.
The CAC has been engaged in the debate around plain packaging since it was first raised in the Health Minister's mandate letter and immediately commissioned public opinion research on consumer views of the policy.
"Our polling on this matter has been decisive, but it has unfortunately been ignored throughout the process leading to these regulations. The Government apparently does not want to hear from consumers, even though this is presented as consumer policy," added Cran.
Research commissioned by the CAC and shared with the Health Minister and the House of Commons Health Committee found 50% of consumers feel it is important to be able to easily identify their preferred brand of a product based on packaging; 58% feel plain packaging will mean they are unable to distinguish their preferred brand of a product; 71% feel it will be more difficult to identify their preferred brand of a product with plain packaging; 54% are concerned they will buy the wrong brand; and 69% are concerned the product they are buying under plain packaging could be counterfeit.
"Branding exists to protect consumers. That is why the CAC is so opposed to plain packaging for any product. Today is it tobacco; tomorrow it could be alcohol, junk food, and who knows what else. This is a horrible precedent that can now be applied to any product," stated Cran.
In addition to plain packaging, the draft regulations also seek to standardize the appearance of packages and even individual cigarettes.
"This is akin to forcing all cars to be the same shape and to have black interiors, all wine to be in the same colour bottle and a specific shade of red or white inside, or all potato chips to be flat rather than ruffled. This is further stripping away the right of consumers to look for features that clearly distinguish their brand preference," added Cran.
The CAC plans to make its views known to Parliamentarians in hopes they will intervene with the Minister of Health to force her department to protect consumer rights.
About the Consumers' Association of Canada
The Consumers' Association of Canada (CAC), founded in 1947, is an independent, national, not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization. The longest serving and most respected consumer organization in Canada, our mandate is to inform and educate consumers on marketplace issues, to advocate for consumers with government and industry, and to work with government and industry to solve marketplace problems.
SOURCE Consumers' Association of Canada
For further information: Bruce Cran, President, Consumers Association of Canada, 604-418-8359 or [email protected]