Big Tobacco miffed over health committee snub, opposes plain packaging proposal


OTTAWA — Canada’s largest tobacco manufacturer says it is being treated unfairly after a government health committee refused to hear its input in person on proposed changes to smoking laws.

Spokesman Eric Gagnon calls it incomprehensible that legislators would want to pass new rules around tobacco without hearing from a company that controls the majority of the market.

But committee vice-chair Marilyn Gladu says the decision to exclude Imperial Tobacco boiled down to not having enough time to hear from everyone, adding that the company was invited to make a written submission.

Gladu says the committee wanted to hear from a broad range of perspectives, and that the finalized list of presenters included an association representing convenience store retailers and a tobacco manufacturing company owned by industry giant Philip Morris.

The proposed legislation would roll vaping products into tobacco regulations, expand plain-packaging rules for tobacco products and forbid the marketing of flavoured e-cigarettes to young people.

Gagnon says plain-packaging rules will make it even easier for the contraband cigarette industry to thrive in Canada, where it is already estimated to control at least a fifth of the market.

The Canadian Press