On May 16 2018 parliament passed Bill S-5 which gives Health Canada the authority to implement plain packaging on premium tobacco products. This means saying goodbye to the beautiful holograms of Cohiba and beautifully hand-drawn artwork of many other brands. The ornate designs that have graced boxes and singles for over a hundred years will be replaced with plain olive green packaging with nothing more than the name of the cigar printed on it.
Australia has been doing this since December 1 2012. Their branding guide goes into extreme details about how large the font size can be for the name, variant, and country of origin – “no larger than 10 points Lucida Sans on Pantone 448C” in case you were wondering. No more will you be lured in by those sultry bright colours and fancy swirls like a Bird of Paradise calling its potential mate. No more!
What about verifying authenticity of cigars? In a country very concerned with grey-market tobacco, how do you, the buyer, verify your purchase? What will happen to all those “real of fake” posts on the forums and Facebook groups? How do we the seller ensure that what we’re getting is legitimate? While the government tries to nail down one issue (public health) it opens the doors to another issue that they’ve fought for decades to contain.
Additionally, who will do all that work to re-band every cigar and box? The distributors are already charged with adding a variety of stickers to cigar packaging. This will ultimately end in an increase in supply cost – which I suppose will also make the government happy.
The law isn’t final yet! It still needs to be approved through the Governor General before becoming law at which point it will take effect 180 days after finalization. You could try writing a letter to the queen to get her thoughts?
Update: Wondering how you can help? Sign the petition against plain cigar packaging.
What are your thoughts on this?