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Health Concerns

An Act to amend the Tobacco Act (2009)

Frequently Asked Questions

Tobacco Products
  1. Where can I find the text of the amendments to the Tobacco Act?
  2. When do these amendments come into effect?
  3. Why has the Government amended the Tobacco Act?
  4. What is a blunt wrap, and why are they included in the amendments?
  5. Why has Health Canada not focused on contraband tobacco in this amendment?
  6. Are wine-flavoured little cigars now banned?
  7. Why do the amendments exclude menthol flavouring from the ban?
  8. Why only ban flavours in three tobacco products (little cigars, cigarettes and blunt wraps)?
  9. Why isn't the Government implementing a complete ban on tobacco advertising?
  10. Why is it important to have little cigars and blunt wraps packaged like cigarettes in packs of 20?

  • Q1. Where can I find the text of the amendments to the Tobacco Act?
  • A1. You can read the amendments on the Parliament of Canada Web site

    In addition, you can read the full text of the Tobacco Act on the Next link will take you to another Web site Department of Justice Web site.

  • Q2. When do these amendments come into effect?
  • A2. The Act has several different coming-into-force dates:
    • The extended restrictions on the advertising of tobacco products came into effect on October 8, 2009, when the amendments received Royal Assent.
    • Effective April 6, 2010, the retail sale, including duty-free sale, of little cigars and blunt wraps packaged in less than 20 units is no longer permitted.
    • Effective July 5, 2010, the retail sale, including duty-free sale, of cigarettes, little cigars and blunt wraps that contain a prohibited additive (all flavouring agents excluding menthol, and certain other additives) is no longer permitted.
  • Q3. Why has the Government amended the Tobacco Act?
  • A3. In September 2008, Prime Minister Harper committed to taking action on tobacco marketing practices aimed at youth. The Government has fulfilled its commitment by:
    • Banning the use of fruit-flavourings in little cigars, cigarettes and blunt wraps, as well as those additives that add candy-like flavours;
    • Addressing the resurgence of tobacco advertising in publications that can be viewed by children and youth; and
    • Requiring that little cigars and blunt wraps be sold in packages of at least 20.

    The recent trend of fruit and other flavours (such as grape, cherry, peach, banana split, tropical punch, and chocolate) being added to little cigars and blunt wraps served as an inducement to youth smoking. Sales of little cigars have jumped from 53 million units in 2001 to an estimated 469 million units in 2008; they were the fastest growing tobacco product on the market and children and youth were smoking them.

  • Q4. What is a blunt wrap, and why are they included in the amendments?
  • A4. A blunt wrap is a sheet or tube made of tobacco used to roll cigarette tobacco in - similar to rolling paper. Like little cigars, blunt wraps are available in a wide range of flavours including banana split, strawberry, chocolate, and tropical punch, and are sold in single or small quantity "kiddy-packs" for as little as $1 dollar each.

    Blunt wraps are included in these amendments because removing certain flavours and packaging them in larger quantities makes them less attractive and accessible to youth. If blunt wraps were not included in the flavour ban along with minimum quantity provisions, children and youth could switch from using flavoured little cigars to using flavoured blunt wraps and adding their own tobacco.

  • Q5. Why has Health Canada not focused on contraband tobacco in this amendment?
  • A5. Health Canada focuses on prevention and cessation measures; it is the role of Public Safety to lead the government's efforts against contraband through the RCMP's Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy.

    The focus of the amendments is to address the advertising and marketing of tobacco products to children and youth.

Flavours and Additives

  • Q6. Are wine-flavoured little cigars now banned?
  • A6. If a product fits within the definition of a "little cigar" as spelled out in the amendments, it will be subject to the flavour ban. In general, a flavoured little cigar with a cigarette-type filter or one that weighs no more than 1.4 g, (excluding any plastic tip) would be subject to the flavour ban. Larger cigars or those without a filter are not included in the ban.
  • Q7. Why do the amendments exclude menthol flavouring from the ban?
  • A7. Menthol-flavoured cigarettes have been in the marketplace since the 1920s and are used by about 2% of smokers in Canada. The measures in the legislation are designed to protect children and youth by focussing on new or emerging fruit- and candy-flavoured tobacco products -- such as little cigars and blunt wraps -- that may induce youth to smoke.
  • Q8. Why only ban flavours in three tobacco products (little cigars, cigarettes and blunt wraps)?
  • A8. Banning flavours in little cigars, cigarettes and blunt wraps (excluding menthol) addresses a significant part of the flavoured market and sends an important message to tobacco manufacturers that marketing tobacco to youth will not be tolerated. Health Canada will continue to monitor emerging trends of other tobacco products and take action in the future when warranted.

Advertising

  • Q9. Why isn't the Government implementing a complete ban on tobacco advertising?

  • A9. The unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision of June 2007 confirmed that tobacco companies have the right to advertise based on the constitutional protection of commercial expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. From Health Canada's perspective, the decision left the door open to regulate further where youth are concerned.

    The amendments to the Act leave only two remaining 'windows' through which the industry could advertise:

    • On signs in areas where minors are prohibited (e.g., bars and nightclubs); and
    • In publications provided by mail to a named adult.

Minimum Quantities

  • Q10. Why is it important to have little cigars and blunt wraps packaged like cigarettes in packs of 20?
  • A10. The amendments to the Act require that little cigars and blunt wraps meet the same requirements for minimum package quantities as cigarettes. This will put an end to the industry practice of selling these products in single or small quantity "kiddy-packs" that are affordable to youth. By requiring minimum package quantities of at least 20 units, little cigars and blunt wraps will be less affordable and accessible to young people.