Imperial challenging bigger Canadian warnings

Imperial Tobacco Canada is challenging the constitutionality of the federal government’s decision to increase the size of graphic health warnings on cigarette packs to 75 per cent.

In a press note announcing that it had started proceedings, Imperial Tobacco said that it recognized the health risks associated with smoking and agreed that consumers should continue to be informed about those risks.

Imperial Tobacco Brands

Imperial Tobacco cigarette brands

However, it said it believed the current regulation, including the existing 50 per cent health warnings, provided sufficient information to adult consumers in order for them to make informed decisions.

“In choosing to further regulate the legal and already heavily regulated industry, it is clear that the federal government is avoiding the country’s number one tobacco problem, the illegal tobacco market,” said John Clayton, vice president, corporate affairs. “A market that evades all taxes and current regulations and whose products carry no health warnings.”

Imperial contends that increasing the graphic health warnings infringes on the company’s ability to communicate and is an illegal violation of the company’s rights under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Does anyone seriously believe that Canadians don’t already know the risk of smoking?” Clayton asked. “Increasing the size of the warning from 50 to 75 percent will not lead to any measurable change to public awareness.

“We have been forced to take this position for us and for other industries that may be the target of over regulation,” he added.

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