The federal government plans to consult Canadians about how best to implement measures to curb smoking that include requiring plain packaging for tobacco products, Health Minister Jane Philpott said Tuesday.
The dialogue is one of the initial steps in Canada’s plan to mandate a standard package size for tobacco products and a total ban on the use of colours, logos and graphics on cigarette packs.
Philpott’s announcement — timed to coincide with World No Tobacco Day — also came as New Zealand released draft regulations for consultations to accompany a bill before its parliament.
Norway, which has already conducted consultations, also signalled Tuesday it will introduce a bill in its parliament in early June.
Here at home, the proposal is already sparking fierce opposition from the industry — a feud that is likely to be another installation in the legal fight between Ottawa and Big Tobacco.
The government is well aware industry players are against the measure, Philpott said, adding their response comes as “no surprise.”
“Australia, some time ago, had a successful legal outcome and the U.K. very recently had a successful legal outcome,” Philpott said.
“There’s good evidence that gives us confidence, these are obviously in other legal systems but the evidence is out there that … the needs to protect public health trump the realities of the industry.”
The industry is making its opinions “widely known” among MPs, Philpott added, but she stressed the government will not be changing its mind on its plan.
“There’s no question about whether we are going to proceed with plain packaging regulations,” Philpott said.
“We want to know how best to do it.”
In addition to Australia, plain packaging has also been embraced in France, the United Kingdom and Ireland, while formal consideration is also underway in Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, Belgium and South Africa.