Tobacco industry rep concerned by cannabis packaging rules

Imperial Tobacco's Eric Gagnon says it's unfair that proposed packaging and branding rules for cannabis in Canada are not as strict as those for tobacco products

A tobacco company representative is calling for more strict packaging rules for legal cannabis, according to an article today in the Lobby Monitor (subscription required).

Eric Gagnon, head of external and corporate affairs at Imperial Tobacco told the Monitor that he is concerned that the rules being discussed with the Liberal’s Cannabis Act, Bill C-45 are, not as strict as those regulations being discussed in Bill S-5, an Act to amend the Tobacco Act.

The Tobacco Act regulates many aspects of the tobacco industry, including vaporizing and use of the word ‘cannabis’ in tobacco product marketing.

“Our argument is to say: why isn’t the government using the same language for Bill S-5 as it is for C-45?,” Gagnon told the Monitor.

Many in the cannabis industry have argued that branding is needed for legal companies to distinguish themselves from illicit producers and sellers. Without this distinction, the government’s goal of taking supply from the black market will not succeed, they say.

Cannabis Canada, an industry association made up of medical cannabis producers, has said that branding helps consumers make informed decisions about the products they consume.

“There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace. About a quarter of the inquiries Cannabis Canada receives are questions about where and how to obtain legal cannabis,” said Colette Rivet, Executive Director of Cannabis Canada Association, last December.

“Allowing companies to brand and advertise their products will help consumers to distinguish safe, quality, legally-produced cannabis from black market product, and it will also help consumers to make informed decisions regarding different strains, levels of potency and characteristics.”

Gagnon says the tobacco industry faces similar challenges, with “close to 20 to 25 percent” of the tobacco market in Canada controlled by the black market.

Gagnon says it’s confusing that the government “recognizes these rights and arguments for the marijuana industry and not for the tobacco industry, which is already highly regulated.”

Bill S-5, An Act to Amend the Tobacco Act, is currently at second reading in the Senate. Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, is at second reading in the House of Commons.  

Image via FlickrCity of Vancouver Archives.

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