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Plain Packaging
Plain Packaging2020-02-26T15:52:12+00:00

Resources Library – Hot Topic – Plain Packaging

Hot Topic – Plain Packaging

Health Canada’s new regulations on plain packaging have taken effect on November 9,  2019. Retailers have a 90-day window to off-load their remaining inventory.

All packaging must now feature the same brown base colour, basic grey text and minimalist layout under the new requirements. The measures also standardize the size and appearance of cigarettes, cigars and other products inside the packages.

The decision to adopt plain packaging for tobacco products was first announced by Health Canada on May 1st, 2019. These packages and products are powerful promotional vehicles. Reducing the appeal of tobacco products is an important step toward protecting Canadians, particularly youth, from inducements to using tobacco products and from the consequent dependence on them.

Links to official information on legislation in Canada regarding plain and standardized packaging: 

In the news: 

Resources on Plain Packaging

5 Minute Guide – Plain Packaging Around the World – Propel Centre for Population Health Impact

Infographic presented by the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact.

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Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) results for 2020 just released

Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) results for 2020 were just released.

There was a decrease in current smoking from 14.8% in 2019 to 12.9% in 2020, while daily smoking decreased from 10.0% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2020.  These are the lowest smoking prevalence rates ever recorded by CCHS.

Current smoking in 2020 was 15.8% among males and 10.1% among females.

Daily smoking in 2020 was 10.9% among males and 7.3% among females.

Here are trends in current and daily smoking from CCHS Canada-wide:

Current                   Daily

26%        2001       21.5%

23%        2003       18%

22%        2005       17%

22%        2007       17%

21%        2008       17%

20%        2009       16%

21%        2010       16%

20%        2011       15%

20%        2012       15.5%

19%        2013       14%

18%        2014       13.5%

18%        2015       13%

17%        2016       12%

16%        2017       12%

15.8%    2018        10.9%

14.8%    2019        10.0%

12.9%    2020          9.1%

Plain packaging, an important measure, was implemented at the retail level on Feb. 7, 2020.

The most important reason for the decline in smoking prevalence in recent years has been substantially higher prices, through tobacco tax increases and very large manufacturer price increases.  Manufacturers themselves have increased their net-of-tax prices on average by $20.20 per carton of 200 cigarettes over the seven year period 2014-2020 inclusive.  And during this seven year period there have been federal tobacco tax increases totalling $7.76 per carton, and provincial tobacco tax increases totalling $4.00 in Quebec, $14.40 in BC, $12.25 in Ontario, $13.04 in New Brunswick, $15.00 in Alberta, as well as other amounts in other provinces.  As well, GST/PST/HST has applied on top of all of these price increases and tobacco tax increases.  Thus an increase in the retail price of about $30.00 per carton has been seen during this period in Quebec and Manitoba, and more than $30.00 per carton in the other 8 provinces and sometimes substantially more.  (More details will be provided later regarding tobacco tax increases per province. There have been further tobacco tax increases in 2021 federally and in BC and NL.)

A series of other factors as part of a comprehensive strategy would also have contributed to the decrease.

Further information will follow, including provincial breakdowns.

More information regarding CCHS can be obtained from Statistics Canada data tables available at the following links:

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The Plain Truth – Learn about Plain and Standardized Tobacco Packaging – Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco

The Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco created this site to help raise awareness of the need of plain and standardized tobacco packaging in Canada. Currently, 18% of Canadians smoke and this represents 5.4 million Canadians.

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