By Perry Lefko
A new study by Forum Research commissioned by Mississauga-based company JTI-Macdonald Corp. shows Canadians believe requiring plain packaging for cigarettes is an unnecessary waste of government resources.
The research comes at a time when Canadians are concerned about the regulation of controlled substances. The research found that eight of 10 Canadians believe that branding on products matters as it gives consumers information about a product and helps distinguish one product from another. Furthermore, the study showed that branding helps prevent the sale of tobacco to minors by making it harder to sell illegal cigarettes. The research also showed that 74 per cent of Canadians believe that because tobacco is a legal product that adults are allowed to buy, tobacco companies should be allowed to brand their products.
Additionally, the study showed 65 percent of Canadians think plain and standardized packaging is unnecessary, and 64 per cent believe it is a waste of government resources.
“Canadians are right to believe plain packaging on tobacco products won’t work,” says Igor Dzaja, General Manager of JTI-Macdonald Corp. “The policy has failed in Australia, where it was introduced nearly five years ago. The government’s own data shows that the long-term decline in smoking has now stalled.”
The Australian experience shows that consumer choice is now reduced to price when it comes to purchasing a tobacco product, and the cheapest product will always come from the illegal market. Untaxed and unregulated cigarettes already make up 20 per cent of the tobacco market in Canada and a ban on branding will only make this problem worse, the study claimed.
On May 31 this year, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released its figures for the first full three-year period since plain packaging was introduced on tobacco products in December 2012. Figures show that “while smoking rates have been on a long-term downward trend, for the first time in over two decades the daily smoking rate did not significantly decline over the most recent three-year period from 2013-16.”
JTI-Macdonald Corp. manufactures and distributes cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. Formerly known as RJR-Macdonald Inc. and later changed to JTI-Macdonald Corp. in 1999, it was founded in 1858.