CANADA: A new white paper produced by the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) charges that the federal government risks damaging thousands of small businesses in communities across the country by opening the door to further increases in sales of illegal tobacco while giving unfair and preferential treatment to the sellers of cannabis.
Ottawa is considering important legislative changes for two controversial, age-restricted products. Bill C-45 – The Cannabis Act lays the framework for the legalization and regulation of cannabis. The House of Commons is also considering Bill S-5, a new law to regulate e-cigarettes and place further restrictions on tobacco.
The stated purposes of legalizing cannabis are to reduce the black market, to restrict youth access, to deter and reduce criminal activity, and to protect public health through strict product safety. The government’s Tobacco Control Strategy shares the very same goals. However, the approaches are inconsistent, and, in the case of tobacco, will be counterproductive. Government should not rush changes through, and should instead take the time to ensure that a consistent and coherent approach is taken to these two controlled products.
Tobacco faces severe new restrictions and will only be allowed to be sold in identical plain packaging. By contrast, cannabis packaging will be permitted to have limited branding, will have more room for promotion and will be taxed at a much lower rate than tobacco products.
Just yesterday, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor attempted to explain why branding will be allowed on cannabis by saying that packaging and labelling of cannabis products is necessary to give adult consumers the relevant information they need to make informed decisions and an educated choice.
“We couldn’t agree more with the Minister, and fail to understand why the same logic is not being applied to tobacco,” said Satinder Chera, President of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA).