TORONTO, April 1, 2015 /CNW/ - Bill 45 (Making Healthier Choices Act, 2015) is currently before the Ontario Legislature at Second Reading debate stage. While the concept of encouraging healthier lifestyles is obviously commendable, the Bill's proposed ban on flavoured tobacco products is extremely misguided and very dangerous – especially as it pertains to Ontario's youth.
"If (continued to be) left unchecked, the proposed ban on flavoured tobacco products will simply come to destroy legitimate companies and livelihoods – while arguably encouraging youth uptake and consumption of tobacco products in general," says Mr. Dan More, President of Brigham Enterprises Inc. "The fact remains that the market for contraband tobacco products in Ontario is alive and well. Banning our flavoured tobacco products will directly feed this market one way or another. For consumers who do not switch to illegal products, their interest in tobacco will likely switch to traditional products – directly benefitting the big tobacco companies currently in the legal marketplace."
"Kids who have always been interested in and able to illegally access tobacco products in general will arguably search out these banned products from either an unregulated source (contraband) or start consuming traditional (non-flavoured) products which Health Canada research clearly shows are much more likely to encourage initiation to smoking (e.g. non-flavoured cigarettes and menthol cigarettes). To assume that banning our flavoured tobacco products will have any relevant impact on youth initiation to smoking is more about sensibilities than sense. This is purely political in nature and designed to distract Ontarians from the actual, serious health and economic issues before us," said Mr. More.
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT TURNS A WILLFUL DEAF-EAR TO TAX-PAYERS
Less than a year ago, over a thousand legitimate, government-licensed retailers/wholesalers from more than 50 towns and cities across the province formally petitioned Premier Wynn for meaningful consultation and actual, honest debate on this file. Their call for fairness and the truth remains to this day unanswered.
Brigham itself, again, recently contacted the Premier and every MLA in the hope of securing honest, necessary discussion regarding our flavoured tobacco products and the (false) allegations regarding youth initiation to smoking. Our recent request for consideration equally remains without response.
That thousands of legitimate industry stakeholders across the province, let alone a century-old responsible corporate citizen cannot secure the government's interest in honest discussion is a very dangerous red flag for Ontarians in general. That elected officials can arbitrarily dismiss law-abiding, tax-paying citizens from being consulted on matters which directly impact their lives and livelihoods is an abomination of the democratic process, says Mr. More.
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT TURNS A WILLFUL BLIND-EYE TO THE FACTS
Brigham's flavoured tobacco products are sold by licensed, government-inspected retailers across the province - in a variety of flavours that have been on the market for several decades.
Comparatively, the government of Ontario, through its currently 639 LCBOs and 217 agency stores (more to open this year) sells the exact same flavours found in tobacco products - in well over 100 different alcohol products. More than this (and unlike for tobacco), the government of Ontario aggressively and sustainably promotes the sale of fruit, candy and spice flavoured alcohol products every day.
Health Canada's most recent survey findings (Youth Smoking Survey 2012-2013), the rationale for the proposed ban on flavoured tobacco products, actually confirm the following:
- Flavoured tobacco products are absolutely not a gateway to kids using tobacco products. 0.7% of kids who had never smoked before, tried a flavoured little cigar product in the previous 30 days of the survey.
- High school kids are twice as likely to try Cocaine, than they are a flavoured little cigar.
- High school kids are 19 times more likely to try marijuana, than they are a flavoured little cigar.
- High school kids are 40 times more likely to try alcohol (arguably flavoured), than they are a flavoured little cigar.
To view a graph of the Youth Smoking Survey 2012-2013 please click here.
The only reason why the government has so far been able to get away with promoting the outrageous allegations about our legitimate flavoured tobacco products and youth interest in smoking is because no one in government or the media has ever shown an interest in actually reviewing the data in question and seriously questioning the proponents of the Bill. To date, Second Reading debate on Bill 45 (as it relates to flavoured tobacco use) has been purely self-congratulatory in tone.
ABOUT BRIGHAM ENTERPRISES INC.
- Brigham Enterprises has been a responsible, corporate citizen in Ontario for more than a century.
- In the last 5 years alone, Brigham has contributed more than $26 million in provincial tobacco taxes.
- Founded in 1906, the company is headquartered in Toronto and services several thousand wholesale and retail partners across the province (and the country). In Ontario alone Brigham products contribute to the financial well-being and bottom line of over 400 hundred (direct) retailers – and thousands more through our network of local distributors.
- As a specialty tobacco business, Brigham products unquestionably service adult consumers who have a personal interest in and appreciation for pipe tobacco, cigars and flavoured tobacco products in general.
- Brigham and its partners are licensed and regularly (government) inspected companies that cannot and do not sell to kids.
With Bill 45 in the works, our company, our commercial partners and our adult consumer-base now find themselves under siege by a proposed regulatory initiative that, while perhaps well-intended, will come to unnecessarily and without any true value to the province - usurp Ontarians' very right to free choice.
SOURCE Brigham Enterprises Inc.
For further information: Daniel W. More, President, Tel.: (416) 762-7278