Many would argue that Imperial’s input was not required anyway, as we all know that every Big Tobacco company out there is against plain packaging and any other regulation that may reduce smoking rates. However, spokesperson for Imperial, Eric Gagnon naturally disagrees, “How a committee can pass a tobacco bill without hearing from a tobacco company that has close to 50-per-cent market share is beyond us.”

Canadian smokers have been facing obstacles from the authorities, just to be able to obtain and use safer alternatives such as electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
On the other hand, Imperial Tobacco was only excluded from the discussions due to time limitations, and vice-chair of the House of Commons committee Marilyn Gladu, assured everyone that Imperial has been invited to present a written submission.

“Too many witnesses, not enough panels,” said Gladu, a Conservative MP. “We had as much of a spectrum as we could,” she added, since the committee heard from other tobacco companies who obviously share the same opinion, amongst which Rothmans and Benson and Hedges Inc..

The committee also heard speakers from Health Canada and various health advocacy groups, such as Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society. If passed, besides enforcing plain packaging, the proposed legislation would also extend the current tobacco regulations to include e-cigarettes.

Tobacco regulations should be relative to the products’ risks

In the meantime, renowned public health expert and chair of the advisory committee at the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa David Sweanor, has been pointing out the importance of differentiating between cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Sweanor has been striving to develop tobacco-control laws in Canada and around the world for the last 30 years, and has received the prestigious Ottawa’s Outstanding Individual Philanthropist award in 2016. The professor has been insisting that many smokers have been facing significant obstacles by the authorities just to be able to obtain and use safer alternatives such as electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

Regulations should facilitate transitions to safer alternatives

“Canadian regulation has not only failed to adapt to and facilitate the transition to these massively lower-risk products, but hampered their development, marketing and accessibility. Smoke-free products could not only dramatically reduce the disease burden but could facilitate total nicotine abstinence for those who wish it,” said Sweanor last year.

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