You may think then that my headline is guilty of the same click bait tactics I leveled at other media organizations.
Bill S-5 introduced plain packaging which would include handmade premium cigar products and pipe tobacco. Commentary period ends today, September 6th. You can read the regulations and impact statement here.
Should Bill S-5 plain packaging be implemented in the way it was implemented in Australia, it will mean the death of the cigar industry in Canada. Currently, it’s estimated that as much as 70% of the cigars smoked in Canada are brought in through International shipping to avoid our draconian tobacco taxes. As costs rise significantly with packaging costs passed along to the retailers, and then to the consumer, importers are predicting as many as 50% of the non-Cuban brands will pull their brands rather than go through the processes of adapting cigar box and band packaging changes.
Some of the restrictions the industry already faces might be impossible to believe for U.S. readers. A brief summary of the major restrictions for cigar aficionados in Canada vs. the U.S.:
- Since 2007, in Alberta you cannot smoke indoors. This includes B&M retailers, and staff.
- There are no grandfathered smoking lounges remaining in Alberta
- You cannot smoke on a patio outside
- You cannot smoke in a public park
- You cannot openly display tobacco products unless your store commits to only selling tobacco products, and you restrict access to 18+ only
- You cannot give customers free cigar products, or any swag that influences someone to buy cigar products
- Retailers may purchase only from a licensed importer
- Cigar brands are restricted to a single licensed importer
- Cigars are 4 – 5 times the US retail price because of excessive tobacco and excise taxes
As the General Manager for a Tobacconist chain of 19 stores, Bill S-5 has given us considerable pause in adding on new stores. We can only hope that the Canadian Government listens to the hundreds of Tobacconists across Canada, and the thousands of consumers who have already submitted their comments.
If you’re a Canadian consumer or retailer, I urge you to submit a letter today to your MP by visiting Better Cigar Plan.
Cigar Editorial: The Death of the Cigar Industry in Canada