Plain-packaged tobacco is a flop and our health relies on Ottawa admitting it

From: Financial Post

Eric Gagnon: The answer to reducing the number of smokers is not, and has never been, plain packaging

It is with cynicism that we notice that Bill S-5 – Canada’s tobacco plain-packaging bill – concluded its second reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday. After all, as Australia was marking (but hardly celebrating) the fifth anniversary of its introduction of tobacco plain packaging last week, the most recent government data show that the policy has wholly failed to reduce smoking rates across the country. Not only has the policy not achieved its stated aims, but the Department of Health has admitted that the post-plain-packaging era marks the first time-period in over 20 years during which smoking rates have not declined.

Australia is not alone. Two other countries have since implemented plain packaging, and while data are not yet available following the U.K.’s May 2017 introduction of the measure, France’s experience is mirroring Australia’s policy flop, with smoking rates showing no decrease. Just last week the country’s health minister, Agnès Buzyn, stated in the National Assembly that “plain packaging has therefore not reduced official tobacco sales.”

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