Health Canada Research Confirms: Orchestrated Attack on Flavoured Cigarillos Baseless

    MONTREAL, Feb. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Data recently released by Health Canada
and Statistics Canada clearly show that the use of little cigars / cigarillos
(plain or flavoured) among minors in Canada is on the decline. The Canadian
Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS), the best yardstick for sustainably
measuring smoking behaviour in our country, recently unveiled its findings for
2008 (Wave 1).

    Generally speaking, among minors in Canada, both the prevalence of smoking
little cigars / cigarillos (plain or flavoured) and the actual number of
smokers were on the decline in 2008.

    - Among minors (under the age of 18), the prevalence rate declined from
      8.4% in 2007 to 7.4% in 2008 - resulting in 12,100 fewer little cigar
      / cigarillo smokers.
    - Among 18-19 year olds, the prevalence rate declined from 14.2% in 2007
      to 13.6% in 2008 - resulting in 5,500 fewer little cigar / cigarillo
      smokers in this age group.

    Comparatively speaking, cigarette use actually increased during this same

    - Among minors (under the age of 18), there were 1,135 additional
      cigarette smokers in 2008 (compared to 2007).
    - Among 18-19 year olds, CTUMS recorded an additional 7,596 cigarette
      smokers in 2008 (compared to 2007).

    Overall, 91% of those who say they have tried a little cigar / cigarillo
(plain or flavoured) in the last 30 days are of legal age to have done so.
CTUMS 2008 re-confirms what CTUMS 2007 had already told us - that the vast
majority of little cigar / cigarillo consumers are of legal age to purchase
the product and the majority is over the age of 25. To suggest that these
products are specifically designed to target kids is simply unsubstantiated by
any actual research or evidence of any kind. The CTUMS data is proof that most
of what has been publicly promoted about flavoured little cigars / cigarillos
is tantamount to an outright lie.
    This new data comes on the heels of emerging public policy and policy
interest in various Canadian jurisdictions that would want to arbitrarily ban
flavoured cigarillos (in response to the panic and fear since promoted by
anti-tobacco extremist groups) - and newly released RCMP information clearly
identifying a growing interest among organized crime groups for the
trafficking of these popular products from the U.S. into Canada.
    "The push to ban flavoured little cigars / cigarillos is an orchestrated
attack spearheaded by a handful of anti-tobacco extremist groups in Canada,
that have since found unsuspecting support and leverage among well-meaning but
gravely misinformed youth organizations, national health agencies and
politicians across the country", 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).
    "These attacks are purely about hate, not health", says Mr. Martial.
"From a rational, expert-base tobacco control standpoint, banning flavoured
little cigars / cigarillos is simply bad public health policy that will come
to cause greater, irrevocable harm to our society. This is a minors' access
issue, not a product design issue".
    As importantly, at a time in our history when legitimate jobs and
government revenues are at a premium, any politician or government that would
propose anti-business legislation based on less than all of the facts are
simply acting in a publicly irresponsible, unaccountable and detrimental
    The government of Ontario recently blindsided the general public and
irresponsibly hurried through a law that would ban these products - leveraged
solely on the factual misrepresentations, the fear and the hatred promoted by
anti-tobacco extremist groups. Although no enforcement date has yet been
identified in Ontario, such a ban can be expected to further fuel drugs and
weapons trafficking in Canada; hurt thousands of legitimate businesses across
the province; throw away tens of millions of dollars in current legitimate
provincial government revenues; and provide for much more, much cheaper and
less controlled tobacco products to kids in Ontario.
    While some politicians and governments in other provinces have since
expressed similar orchestrated concern over flavoured little cigars /
cigarillos, none to date have bothered to undertake any actual research or
analysis of the product or its market. Prince Edward Island is the only
province in Canada that has since shown true leadership on tobacco control and
accountability in government by actually mandating its health department to
examine the product, its market and the issue at hand - prior to introducing
any anti-business legislation.
    Furthermore, from a policy standpoint, no government, to include Ontario,
has yet explained how they could justify banning flavours in tobacco products
when the exact same flavours are found in a much greater variety of alcohol
beverages - which happen to be sold in government-run liquor stores across
their jurisdiction. Especially at a time when 4-5 times more kids are
consuming alcohol, compared to tobacco products, one can't help but wonder how
any government could rationalize banning these flavours in tobacco but not
alcohol. There has also been no public explanation as to how any government
could justify uniquely banning these flavoured cigarillos when prevalence and
consumption rates for these products are actually lower and on the decline,
compared to cigarette use among minors and 18-19 year olds, which is actually
higher and increasing.
    Politicians across Canada who have since spoken with such passionate
outrage against these flavoured products simply have no idea what they are
talking about. Period. Their positions and contentions are simply without
factual merit.
    In the end, a law that would ban these products, as recently introduced
(although not yet applied) in Ontario, will come to simply fuel a war with the
underground economy - that we can't possibly ever win.

    Established in 1998, Casa Cubana is a Montreal-based importer of premium
and value brand cigar products across Canada. With more than 450 cigar
products in its catalogue, the company services over 10,000 direct retail
clients across the country. Casa Cubana is the exclusive distributor of Prime
Time flavoured cigarillos.

For further information:

For further information: Luc Martial, Government Affairs, Casa Cubana,
(819) 682-2352, Cell: (819) 743-9140

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