Thank you, Mr. Donnelly.
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Don't you wish we could get those budgets through that fast on regular time? This is great.
Having taken care of that, I want to welcome to our committee, from the Canadian Cancer Society, Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst. Welcome, Mr. Cunningham. We're pleased to see you back here again.
From Imperial Tobacco Canada, we have John Clayton, vice-president of corporate affairs, and Caroline Ferland, general counsel. Welcome. We're glad to have you here.
From Southern Graphic Systems Canada, we have David Haslam, regional senior vice-president of manufacturing.
We're pleased to have you here as witnesses until about a quarter to five, at which time we will go to our second panel. I will give each of you 10 minutes.
Let's begin with Imperial Tobacco Canada.
Good afternoon, everyone. My name is John Clayton, and I'm vice-president of corporate and regulatory affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada. Thank you for the opportunity to appear today to provide the following comments on the proposed tobacco product labelling regulations for cigarettes and little cigars.
I'm joined by my colleague Caroline Ferland, associate general counsel at Imperial Tobacco Canada.
At the outset I would like to say that we recognize the health risks associated with smoking. We support the placement of health warnings on cigarette packages. We do not object to the notion that health warnings could be occasionally updated. However, we continue to maintain that the increase from 50% to 75% in the proposed regulations constitutes an unjustified infringement on a manufacturer's right to communicate with its consumers and with consumers' freedom to receive information about the products they buy.
Having said that, we would like to share three specific concerns with the text of the proposed regulations as submitted to this committee today.
First, it is our view that the proposed six-month implementation date is too short. Based on information provided by the industry's supplier of rotogravure cylinders, Southern Graphics Systems, who will address you in a moment, we believe that a 12-month transition period is required in order to be completely compliant with the more than 600 different packaging materials we have. It is important to note that similar legislation in the United States requiring new graphic health warnings on cigarette packages will provide 15 months for manufacturers to be compliant.
As you consider the important issue of the implementation date, we also believe that the only approach that is competitively neutral is a single fixed date of application for all manufacturers, whether it be six, twelve, or nine months. Please remember that the Government of Canada's cabinet directive on streamlining regulations sets out the important principle that regulations must be designed to mitigate adverse impacts on competitiveness. Only by applying a single date of compliance will the regulations affect all manufacturers equally.
Our second point of concern is a specific change made between the February version and the one before this committee today. That change is the addition of the words "at least" in section 13 of the proposed regulations. With that change, section 13 now reads as follows: "The portion of a display area of a package on which a health warning must be displayed is at least 75% of each display area".
The addition of those two words brings with it a vagueness with respect to current and future requirements on the size of the health warnings. Could this change have been introduced as a way to provide Health Canada with the authority to unilaterally increase the size of the warnings beyond 75% in the future, without parliamentary review and scrutiny? If that is the case, then this committee should reject this change.
As you know, subsection 42.1 of the Tobacco Act was designed specifically to ensure that any and all changes to the regulations proposed under the act are reviewed by the health committee and vetted by Parliament. This very unique legislative feature is in place to give you, the elected officials, direct authority to approve, amend, and reject any proposed changes to these regulations. Providing Health Canada with the ability to change the source documents and increase the size of the warning labels beyond 75% without consultation with this committee will frustrate the intent of the statute and allow Health Canada to make changes without the oversight of elected members of Parliament.
Our third and last concern with the proposed draft of the regulations has to do with the qualification of wholesalers under section 32. Section 32 is the section that contains the transition provisions. It specifies that manufacturers have 180 days to comply, and retailers have 270 days. Because of what appears to be merely a drafting oversight, section 32 does not address the question of what transition period is applicable to wholesalers.
Members of this committee have already been made aware of the issue. I would simply refer you to the correspondence sent last week that invites Health Canada to make a very simple change to section 32 to clarify this matter.
I will not expand further on this, but we'd be happy to answer any of your questions.
There is an easy solution that would address two of the issues we have raised here today, the implementation date and the role of the wholesaler. The solution would be to have a single compliance date for all. This solution would not impact the consumer, and it would allow flexibility for the manufacturer to manage the particularities of their own supply chain.
Before we conclude, it is impossible to appear before this committee and not remind all the members that the federal government has still done very little to address Canada's contraband tobacco crisis. According to the RCMP, there are now as many as 50 illegal cigarette factories operating on first nations lands and over 300 smoke shacks selling tobacco outside of any legal or regulatory framework. The transparent plastic baggies of 200 cigarettes sell for as little as $5, carry no health warnings at all, and comply with none of the current regulations around tobacco. As a result, as much as 33% of the yearly Canadian tobacco market has been made up of contraband since 2006. We would urge the health committee to hold hearings on this issue as soon as possible.
In conclusion, I respectfully ask that committee members amend the regulations and/or seek clarifications from Health Canada about the three concerns we have raised here today.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to your questions.
Good afternoon, everybody. My name is David Haslam. I'm senior vice-president of operations for Southern Graphic Systems Canada.
I'll give you a brief introduction to what we are as a company, what we do, and how we fit into this.
SGS has 375 employees in Canada. We're deployed in the packaging graphics business. We don't work just for tobacco companies; it's about 25% of our business. SGS serves printers and consumer product companies, and we supply the graphic plates, tooling, file manipulation, photography, and branding. That is our business.
SGS has sales of $70 million a year in Canada and $350 million a year globally. In 2010 SGS Canada engraved 10,000 cylinders, which are the rotogravure cylinders used for actually printing most packaging, predominantly tobacco packaging. SGS is the recognized market leader in the gravure process. We engraved 75,000 cylinders in North America last year, which is probably three-quarters of the total of the North American market.
The rotogravure process is predominant in the tobacco packaging business globally because of the high quality, the difficulty of reproducing or copying its images, and the fact that in-line processes can be used with it, such as embosses, specialized ink, and security features that can be put into that print process to maintain the integrity of the packaging.
We have the broadest colour gamut in printing in the gravure process, and it is, as I alluded to earlier, the most difficult process to counterfeit and forge.
It is a capital-intensive, high-speed, high-volume business in manufacturing. We need our volumes to stay alive. The in-line capability to die cut, emboss, and enhance the packaging allows it to be as difficult as possible to reproduce.
On the execution of the proposed health warnings, there's an estimation that anywhere between 4,800 and 6,000 cylinders would need to be engraved for printing by the end of the year. I just told you that we did 10,000 in a year.
Our typical annual tobacco volume is about 2,500 cylinders. When we get the files for the new health warnings--we still don't have them yet--we have to build those files, we have to separate them, and we have to build graphics. We have to put all that together, build the layouts, and build everything before we can proceed to manufacturing cylinders, which can then go on to print.
With that, new printing layouts need to be built, new dies need to be formed, and new embosses need to be formed. We estimate that probably about 2,000 new cylinders would need to be purchased. Most cylinders can be repurposed--you can engrave a new design on the old one--but while there's this overlap period, there's going to be a demand for another 2,000 cylinders for that. That has a lead time as well.
All embossed tooling will change because of the position of the health warnings and the position of everything in there. All the embossed tooling will have to be changed, and you're saying we have six months.
On the proposed timeline of 180 days that's in the legislation, the health warnings need to be released to us. We haven't got them. We have draft copies, but we still don't have the final files. We can't even start work. We need to build the master layouts, and we can't do that until we have the final files. Then the health warning masters need to be stripped and implemented into every single layout and print layout available out there.
I talked about the new steel that needs to be ordered and the lead time that's going to come with that requirement. There will be new embossed tooling. Then we have to engrave all the cylinders. We engrave about 1,000 cylinders a month. If we take it in the middle, we have to engrave 5,500 in less than five months. That means abandoning every other customer we have. It's commercial suicide.
Then all the packaging has to be printed. Then it has to be packaged, and then it has to be distributed, so in reality, even if I walked out of here today with the final files, we would only have 120 days to execute what really will take me 360 days. The risk that poses to our business is that we cannot manage that volume of business within this timeline.
Business will leave Canada. People will work hard to be compliant, but business will leave Canada. Typically, when it leaves, it doesn't come back. Volume may go to competing processes, which then allows the risk of counterfeiting and copying. Then when you go to digital printing or offset printing, which you can do in any backyard shop, you're going to have a bigger risk of counterfeiting, which is counterproductive, I think, to the direction of the warnings.
It also impacts the future sustainability of the Canadian printers working in my sphere of packaging, because if they lose 20% of their business--nobody's running on more than 20% margins--it's going to impact sustainability of at least two companies in Quebec and three of my customers in Ontario.
There will be an impact on Canadian jobs. It won't be just within my organization; we will lose business, we will lose size, and therefore we will need fewer employees to do what we have with what is left, but it's also going to have an impact on our printer customers as well.
In closing, I'd just like to ask this. We were engaged in this process at the beginning and we were asked as the industry experts to give you an opinion. We gave you an opinion, we gave you a timeline, and to date you haven't listened. I'm here to appeal to you one more time and say that we need this time to keep this work in Canada and keep these jobs in Canada. Our debate is not with the efficacy of the warnings or how effective they are going to be or where they are going to be placed. We don't really care about that. Our goal is to make sure we maintain as many employees in Canada and maintain the business volume in Canada.
Chair and committee members, my name is Rob Cunningham. I am a lawyer and senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.
Regarding the proposed regulations being considered by the committee, it is the recommendation of the Canadian Cancer Society and many other health organizations that these regulations be approved as is, without amendment, and that they be approved as soon as possible.
These regulations will reduce tobacco use, increase awareness of the health effects, and reduce package deception. These regulations will reduce youth addiction and will save lives. Clearly, delays in the coming into force of the regulations, as urged by Imperial Tobacco, must be avoided.
Minister Aglukkaq and Health Canada deserve praise for the work they have completed. The regulations are outstanding as a source document and in the new warnings. Indeed, all political parties deserve praise for their support of the enhanced picture warnings to be required by the regulations.
I note that this committee has previously studied this issue.
The tobacco industry has argued that there is insufficient evidence that the 75% warning size will be more effective than a smaller size. In fact, there is overwhelming evidence, and it is precisely because the industry knows that the enhanced warnings will reduce sales that the industry is opposed.
I have with me the cover of a compilation of evidence that the Canadian Cancer Society has already provided to all parties and to the committee's research staff. This evidence is available for consideration by MPs during Parliament's consideration of these regulations.
The Canadian Cancer Society itself has conducted four studies--three among adults and one among youth--to assess the increase in warning size to 75%. The studies, which complement Health Canada's research, were online studies conducted nationwide by Environics Research Group in which respondents were shown mock-ups of the new warnings in different sizes. These studies were conducted in 2011, after release of the proposed new warnings.
The results were overwhelming. When Canadians were shown a heart disease warning, for example, in a 75% size and a 50% size, and asked which would be more effective at discouraging smoking among Canadians, 72% selected the 75% warning size, and only 7% selected the smaller 50% warning size. Among youth 12 to 17 years old, the results were similarly powerful: 81% selected the 75% warning size, and only 6% selected the 50% warning size.
Further, as part of the material we have forwarded to committee members, there are 22 opinions from experts in Canada and internationally that the effectiveness of health warnings increases with size, and that the 75% health warning size is more effective than smaller sizes.
We've heard the industry comments with respect to the implementation date of six months. I would suggest that the industry has no credibility on this issue.
In 2000, when picture warning regulations were being considered by this committee, the industry argued that it was technically impossible in Canada for Canadian printers to print colour picture health warnings to comply with the regulations. They said it was impossible, but when the regulations were finalized, the industry was able to comply within the stipulated transition period. The industry also went before Quebec Superior Court to argue that it was impossible to meet the regulatory requirements to print colour picture warnings in time. The court dismissed the argument, and the regulations were enforced.
The industry made all changes last time in nine months, so it's interesting that today Imperial Tobacco is asking for twelve months. The regulations last time said twelve months, but they did nothing for the first three because they attempted to get an application in court to block the regulations from coming into force. They made all the changes in nine months. They also made changes for other tobacco products that are not covered by the current regulations, such as roll-your-own tobacco, pipe tobacco, and large cigars. This time they are already set up to do colour pictures. Last time they were not; it was a new thing. The industry always argues that it doesn't have enough time. The industry is very sophisticated. The industry can do it.
In 1993, for that particular round of regulations, the industry argued before the Supreme Court of Canada that it could actually make changes to all cigarette packages within three months, provided the format of the existing warnings did not change. When industry wants to move quickly, it can.
It is very interesting. I have with me a letter from JTI-Macdonald, submitted to Health Canada on December 3, 2009, as part of this regulatory development process. It recommended to Health Canada that the implementation period at the manufacturing level be six months--exactly what it is in the regulations now, so it's quite surprising to see Imperial Tobacco arguing for a longer period of 12 months--and Health Canada acted on the recommendations of JTI-Macdonald.
It's also interesting to note that a bunch of other countries have transition periods at the manufacturer reporting level of six months or less: Singapore, Bolivia, India, Uruguay. If these other countries that are less sophisticated than Canada can do it, certainly our very sophisticated manufacturers can meet similar deadlines in Canada. I believe there are others. I would have to verify, but I believe that Brazil had nine months at the retailer level, which is the same as in these regulations. Turkey had six months or less. There are a lot of countries.
Imperial Tobacco raised three particular arguments. I disagree with these three particular points in terms of interpretation of the regulation. Let me quickly indicate them.
I've dealt with the first one, the six-month transition period. Second, they expressed a concern with respect to the words “at least 75%”. This was a change compared to the draft published February 19, but these exact words appear in the current regulations, the Tobacco Products Information Regulations in place for the last 10 years. There's nothing new or unusual here, and I think it's important that these words at least be here. If tobacco companies wanted to have a warning larger than 75%, they should be free to do that. We should not indirectly have 75% as a maximum, and that change to the regulations is appropriate. It's clear. It has been in place for 10 years, in terms of similar wording.
Finally, with respect to the reference to wholesalers, I do not think that there's any problem practically. The regulations have a date for manufacturers. There's a date for retailers. Wholesalers actually don't have an obligation to comply with a particular date. There's an obligation on manufacturers and importers and retailers. As a lawyer, I do not think there's a problem with that.
In conclusion, please allow me to reiterate our recommendation that the regulations be approved without amendment.
Let me add a further point on something raised by Imperial Tobacco. They said that they admit the health risks, but they use very careful wording. They don't say “cause and effect”; for them, “health risk” means statistical association, and in Quebec Superior Court, where there is currently a class action suit, they have refused to admit that smoking has a causal relationship with cancer. This is in 2011.
So when the testimony of Imperial Tobacco is being considered, let's consider the entire context of this particular company's credibility.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to appear before the committee.
I look forward to your questions.
Thank you very much, Chairperson.
First of all, thank you to the witnesses for coming today. I know it was in a bit of a hurry. This is our first meeting, and in fact a number of us are very new on this committee.
We're getting to know all the issues, but in terms of what's before us today in the proposed three sets of regulations and hearing the testimony and reading the material, it's very clear that this is something that has been ongoing. The fact that these regulations were gazetted back in February is a clear indication that things were afoot and that these proposals were being outlined and put forward in a formal process, so frankly I'm a bit surprised to hear representation today that we need more time to study this or deal with this or respond to how we address the labelling and so on. It seems to me that it has been very obvious that this was on its way in. In fact, I think we have an opportunity here to keep to the deadline and timeline that were established, and I think that if we delayed this process today, it would be very unfortunate. That's certainly not anything we want to do.
I would like to ask Mr. Haslam to respond. There has been a clear indication all along that this was going to happen. That's one question.
Second, to Mr. Cunningham from the Canadian Cancer Society, I was particularly interested in what you said about youth addiction. I think it would be very interesting for you to spell out what it will mean in real terms if we don't go ahead with these measures that are aimed to prevent addiction and save lives, particularly among young people.
I don't know the statistics for smoking among young people, but I know that it has been rising. That's a particular concern all of us should have for the younger generation.
Could you outline a little more on what it means if we don't go ahead with these regulations? What are we actually saying to young people in terms of their health and their ability to be productive members of society in good health?
There have been studies done by Health Canada on adults and youth and research by the Canadian Cancer Society on adults and youth, and the findings are that the bigger size is more effective than the smaller size.
We know that the cigarette package is a mini-billboard that walks around communities, schoolyards, and homes in the hands of youth. Often the package is what they want to convey as an image to their friends and their peers in their circles. When you have the truth about mouth cancer or other health effects right on that package, that package isn't so cool anymore.
It does discourage youth from smoking. It encourages discussions at school when the subject comes up in health class. It encourages informal discussion among smokers. There is also a toll-free quit line as part of this package, which is very important, because every Canadian, whether in a remote community or a rural community or a city, who finds it inconvenient to get to a smoking cessation program is going to have that number right on the package for the teachable moment when the person is motivated to quit and wants help. They can call for free and get help from a trained specialist. That's available to Canadians across the country.
For a series of reasons, many youth don't think it's going to happen to them. Smoking is going to happen to somebody else. Maybe it's in 50 years, and they are living for the present, but when you have that picture on the package, a picture says a thousand words. It's harder to avoid. Moreover, when it's something to do with image, like the mouth and something like that, it resonates, because image is so important to kids.
It is more difficult for the tobacco companies to convey femininity or masculinity or sophistication or status, which they try to do with all of their attractive packages, when that advertising stock is smaller. I mean, the size is sufficient to convey the brand name and so on. There's no problem there. Other countries, such as Uruguay and so on, have gone bigger, and Australia has required plain packaging in terms of draft legislation they've announced for comment, so other countries have gone further.
These are various mechanisms that help to reduce youth smoking, and that's been the experience in Canada so far. Youth themselves are supportive of these types of messages.
Could I answer instead?
There are two fundamental elements that play a part in the ability to comply with such regulations by the deadline.
First, we must produce and buy the packaging materials that will carry the health warnings. That's what Mr. Haslam is here to testify about. That's an important part of the process for us. The result is greatly affected by the timeframe our suppliers—like Mr. Haslam—can give us.
Second, once we have our packaging materials, we can use them in our plants to produce compliant cigarette packs from then on.
We have already been asked whether we could comply with the regulations in time by investing all our financial resources into that process. Mr. Haslam would be better suited to answer the question, since our ability to meet the deadline greatly depends on when suppliers can provide us with compliant packaging materials.
As he was explaining earlier—and perhaps he would like to add something else—buying the machinery and training employees in order to meet the requirements within a shorter deadline is not a matter of money. As he was explaining, the issue is rather the three-year training period.
Therefore, it is currently more about resources and resource specialization than about money.
Once again, I am going to pick up on the remarks made by Mr. Haslam earlier.
Clearly, we knew that proposed regulations of this nature were being considered. You are asking us whether we started preparing. I will tell you that we tried to start working on it. Faced with a possible six-month timeline, a huge challenge for us, we tried to do as much work as we could.
Your first question was whether it is normal for an industry to start working on something even before the legislation is in place. Let's put that aside for a moment.
It is also important to understand that, even if we do want to start the work, the essential tool we need to manufacture these packaging materials is what we call the source document. It is actually the binder you have in front of you containing the new health warnings.
Not only do we need a hard copy of the document such as the one you have there—which we have already received—but we also need an electronic copy containing highly specialized technical files so that Mr. Haslam can work from it.
So even though we are already doing everything we can to prepare, as long as we do not have the electronic version of the source document, we cannot unfortunately start the most difficult part of the process.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
We appreciate the invitation to speak to the standing committee about Health Canada's tobacco labelling regulations.
Health Canada is committed to helping the five million Canadians who continue to smoke to kick the habit. We know that smoking is responsible for the premature death of 37,000 Canadians a year and causes chronic diseases like lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. We also know that health warning labels on tobacco packaging are one of the most effective ways to warn smokers of the health hazards of smoking. Research has shown, however, that the current messages in place since 2000 have reached their maximum effectiveness.
Last December the announced regulatory changes to introduce new and larger health warning messages that include a toll-free quit line number for all cigarette and little cigar packages. In February of this year the department published the proposed regulations in Canada Gazette part 1, and the minister laid the regulations before the House of Commons on June 9. These regulations are entitled, first, Tobacco Products Labelling Regulations (Cigarettes and Little Cigars); second, Regulations Amending the Tobacco Products Information Regulations; and third, Promotion of Tobacco Products and Accessories Regulations (Prohibited Terms).
I am pleased to provide you with a brief overview of the proposed regulations.
Canada was the first country to require pictorial health warnings on tobacco packaging when it adopted the Tobacco Products Information Regulations in 2000. Since then, research has shown that larger warnings with pictures are more likely to be noticed, better communicate health risks, provoke greater emotional response, and further motivate tobacco users to quit.
I will first mention the proposed tobacco products labelling regulations for cigarettes and little cigars. These regulations will increase the size of the health warnings from 50% to 75% of the front and the back of the package. These regulations include 16 new high-impact health warnings that cover a wide variety of messages. For example, there will be warnings about tobacco-related diseases that have not been featured in the past, such as bladder cancer and age-related macular degeneration, and for the first time Canadian health warnings will feature testimonials from individuals affected by tobacco use, such as the late Barb Tarbox.
Also included are eight new pictorial health information messages placed in the interior of the pack, and four easier to understand toxic emission statements.
Changes to the design of the health information messages make them more engaging, and they encourage users to read the information. The four text-based toxic emission statements provide clear, concise, and easy-to-understand information about the toxic substances found in tobacco smoke. They will be found on the side of cigarette and little cigar packages. Research indicates that having both positive and negative messages is important in motivating behavioural change. This balanced approach will provide Canadians with information on both the health risks of smoking and the health benefits of quitting.
The proposed new labels also feature a pan-Canadian toll-free quit line number and Web portal to inform tobacco users about the availability of smoking cessation services.
Health Canada is working with its provincial and territorial counterparts to establish the quit line and web portal that will seamlessly connect smokers to their local cessation services.
I will just say a word on the issue raised by Mr. Clayton. The inclusion of the words “at least 75%” makes the proposed regulations consistent with the current regulations, which say “at least 50%”. I'd like to assure the committee that this does not alter the requirements set out in the Tobacco Act for all regulations to be laid in front of the House.
Second, Health Canada is also proposing regulations amending the Tobacco Products Information Regulations. These regulations currently establish the requirements for information that must be displayed on tobacco product packaging for retail sale in Canada. The proposed changes will remove their application to cigarettes and little cigars, which will be regulated by the new tobacco products labelling regulations. The amendments will also remove the obligation to list numerical values for toxic emissions, which many smokers found confusing. Other modifications address housekeeping changes in response to issues identified by Parliament's Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.
The third set of proposed regulations deals with prohibited terms in the promotion of tobacco products and accessories. These regulations would prohibit the use of the “light” and “mild” descriptors and related terms on various tobacco products; on their packaging, promotions, and retail displays; and on tobacco accessories.
This last set of regulations would reinforce the Competition Bureau's previous agreement made in 2006 and 2007 with nine tobacco companies, representing approximately 98% of the Canadian cigarette market, to voluntarily remove the misleading terms from their products and packaging. These regulatory changes would prohibit these terms from all relevant products.
As part of the regulatory process, Health Canada consulted Canadians on these three regulatory packages.
Following a 75-day comment period, we received 54 submissions from the tobacco industry, from retailers, from non-governmental health organizations, and from individual Canadians. Health Canada has considered these comments and integrated them, where appropriate, to improve the effectiveness of health messages and to facilitate their implementation. For instance, Health Canada changed some font colours and the layout of the quit line number to improve readability. You'll notice that it's now a yellow font over a black background. Some images were also changed to ensure that health messages were more representative of the diversity in Canadian society. Technical changes, such as the colour processing, were made to facilitate implementation and printing of packages by manufacturers.
Building on the success of the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, the regulations laid out and referred to you propose changes to tobacco packaging that complement new and existing cessation and prevention initiatives, resulting in a comprehensive and integrated approach to tobacco control.
Thank you. My colleagues and I welcome your questions.
Thank you to the Health Canada officials for coming today, and thank you for the work you've done on this file, because it is very important. I would note that our former colleague, , had a private member's bill on this issue and worked very hard. I know she'd be very pleased today to see these things going through.
I actually ended up with more questions, based on what was said. I wasn't running out at all.
We've heard from Mr. Cunningham that these warnings should be updated with new information every couple of years. The last set was in 2000, so we're already 11 years from what we had before. What is the plan now for the future? Are we going to see regular updates from Health Canada? Is that part of the regulations? Maybe you could address that.
There's another thing that concerns me. Maybe this is crazy, but a lot of teenagers buy these really fancy covers to put on their cellphones. We've heard that the visibility of this information is very important. What if some brilliant entrepreneur comes up with the idea of having some little slipcover to go over a cigarette package? Would it be illegal to manufacture and distribute something like that, because in effect it would cover up a health warning that is being done by regulations? I don't know if anybody has looked at that, but I have a concern about it.
On the manufacturing side, the stuff to come forward, we've heard that there are problems with the timeline. I suppose it's a possibility that if the tobacco companies can't meet the deadline, since they have a whole bunch of brands out there, they could decide to stage it. They could go forward with their most popular brands--if I dare say that--pull others off, and do them later. There's nothing to preclude them from doing that, as I understand it, under the regulations.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I think Mr. Proulx ended where I want to start. The objective eventually is to ensure that jobs in the tobacco industry will decrease over time. When you think that 35,000 to 37,000 people a year die from using this particular drug, nicotine, and from using all of the byproducts that come in a cigarette, we don't want this to be a burgeoning industry at all. We don't want it to grow and we don't want people to smoke. That's the bottom line here.
The issue I wanted to ask about is the big question we heard from Mr. Haslam. It was about how long it would take him to do this and his assertion that he wouldn't be able to do it in this period of time. You said that technical changes such as the colour processing were made to facilitate implementation and printing of packages by manufacturers, so obviously you gave thought to the ability to implement in this timeline. I still do not accept that the industry cannot meet this deadline. If it had to outsource it, I think it would be worth outsourcing four to eight jobs to get other companies in Brazil that have done this before to do it. As I said before, you and I agree that this is an industry we want to see end.
This is something that you probably don't want to answer, but as you know, Australia has plain packaging. When I was at the Canadian Medical Association, many of us were looking at the issue of plain packaging as one of the recommendations. Has anyone given any thought to plain packaging?
I know that the Canadian Medical Association has been looking at this for a long time and has recommended it to health committees in the past. Have you given any thought to plain packaging?
Thank you very much for that question.
I'm pleased to be able to point to a number of initiatives that have taken place under the federal tobacco control strategy that have been successful in part. There have been other initiatives, all of which have played a part in reducing prevalence rates from approximately 25% when the strategy came into place to approximately 18% now.
The most recent example was the legislation that Parliament passed to protect youth by banning flavours and additives in little cigars. We are already starting to see the positive impact of that.
Tobacco product advertising is limited to an adult audience and specifically limited to publications provided by mail to a named adult or on signs in places where young persons are not permitted by law.
There are extensive second-hand smoke bans in this country. Canada introduced workplace second-hand smoke regulations in 1987. All provinces and territories have since followed suit. As of 2009, 93% of all Canadians are now working in places with complete restrictions on smoking.
The compliance rates for youths being unable to purchase tobacco products have soared over this period of time. Close to 85% of retailers are now refusing to sell cigarettes to underage Canadians, according to our latest surveys.
Finally, on health warning messages themselves, all the evaluations show that health warning messages are one of the most effective tools we can use. They've been in place in Canada for over 10 years now.