Canadian Cigar Retailers Fight Plain Packaging Proposal

Canadian Cigar Retailers Fight Plain Packaging Proposal
Photo/Health Canada
A cigar box rendered with plain package treatment.

When it comes to handmade cigar regulations, retailers in Canada want their government to take a cue from the United Kingdom. The Premium Cigar Retailers of Canada, an organization that represents about 180 cigar stores, is fighting back against Health Canada’s proposed plain tobacco packaging law with a campaign that asks the agency to exempt handmade cigars, which the U.K. did when its plain packaging law took effect in 2016.

Health Canada, which oversees all tobacco products sold in Canada, passed regulations in May that, as written, will force the removal of all unique markings on cigars and boxes. The regulations would notably standardize the font and color of handmade cigar boxes, thus removing any stylized branding elements.

The proposed plain packaging regulations are currently open for public comment, which ends on September 6. Canadian cigar stores, with the help of their customers, have been campaigning Health Canada to follow the plain packaging model adopted by the U.K.

To help get the word out and make it easier to understand and support the issue, the PCRC has created the Better Cigar Plan website. The retailer group’s main argument is that cigars have no appeal to youth, and therefore should be exempt from the plain packaging proposal.

“Premium cigars account for less than .01 percent of the tobacco products sold in Canada, but are almost 100 percent of the business of Canada’s cigar shops,” said Jerry Hartman, owner of Cigar Studio in Toronto, Ontario. “Why penalize us by putting many shops out of business if this law comes into effect?”

The Better Cigar Plan website offers preform letter for users to copy and paste to send their local Members of Parliament. There’s also a tool that allows users to discover the email address of their local Member of Parliament. Visit www.bettercigarplan.ca to find out how you can help.