Thu May 10, 2018 4:42pm EST

Passage of Bill S-5 a setback for small business retailers and a win for contraband traffickers

TORONTO, May 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Small business retailers are expressing disappointment at the passage of Bill S-5, which is federal legislation that introduces plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products, given the radically different treatment being applied for marijuana cigarettes under Bill C-45. 

“The government’s contradictory approach defies logic,” said Satinder Chera, President of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA). “Canada’s own Health Minister has said that labelling on marijuana cigarettes is necessary to give adult consumers the information they need to make informed, educated decisions. Why would we not want adult consumers to make the same kinds of informed decisions about tobacco, or vaping products too?”

Bill S-5 also restricts retailers from sharing communication about vaping products with customers in store; something that is necessary if expecting adult consumers are to make the switch. Additionally, cannabis companies are already using, and will continue to be allowed to use branding to their advantage to develop attractive, unrestricted lifestyle advertisements geared towards youth.

Retailers have also sounded alarm over the impact of plain and standardized packaging on contraband tobacco, following reports of an uptick in the illicit market in Australia after their own adoption of plain packaging. “The increase in access and use of contraband tobacco in Canada is already a cause for concern, with rates as high as 65% in northern Ontario,” said Anne Kothawala, President of the National Association of Convenience Store Distributors (NACDA). “Despite warnings from law enforcement agencies, the government is promoting legislation that will allow the illegal market to thrive.”

Both the CCSA and NACDA have noted that countries that have introduced plain packaging are dealing with unforeseen consequences, including a rise in illicit tobacco use and no decreases in overall tobacco consumption. France’s Minister of Health declared plain packaging in the country a failure. “We fail to understand why Canada would want to replicate failed public policy,” noted Chera.

Small business retailers and distributors are asking the government to ensure a standard set of regulations for tobacco and cannabis packaging; allow for substantiated, approved messaging between retailers and consumers regarding vaping products; and an appropriate transition period of no less than 12 months to prepare for these changes and educate retailers. “Decision-makers should use the regulatory development period as an opportunity to fix the inherent flaws in this bill,” added Kothawala.             


The Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) is a national, not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of convenience store retailers, distributors, and vendors in Canada. C-store retailers employ over 227,000 people, collect over $21 billion in tax revenue for governments and serve 10 million customers every day in communities across the country.


For more information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact:

Katlyn Harrison Senior Consultant, Summa Strategies Canada
613-235-1400 x 226

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

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