Not everyone in Canada shares the same views on the Canadian government’s recently introduced bill concerning neutral packaging for tobacco products. Indeed, Forum Research conducted an online study of over 200 people, demonstrating that 64% of Canadians believe it is a waste of government resources. Additionally, 65% of those who believe it is a waste also believe that neutral packaging is completely useless.
It is worth recalling that neutral packaging means a type of packaging that has no distinctive aspects, with generic colours and typography. Australia was the first country to propose neutral packaging, followed by France, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The goal is to make tobacco less attractive to consumers (especially young people) and to optimize the effectiveness of health warnings.
The Australian example
Australia adopted neutral packaging in 2012. Data shows that there was no noticeable drop in daily tobacco consumption between 2013 and 2016—and this was the first time of no noticeable decline in 20 years. Such data would suggest that the main criteria for deciding to consume tobacco or not is the cost of cigarettes.
The people at Forum Research fear that the implementation of neutral packaging helps the black market, which is already responsible for a third of all sales. This is already the case in Australia, where the overall rate of black market sales has reached 15%, a number never before imagined.
The Canadian government’s main goal, however, is to turn young people away from tobacco.The government thinks that less attractive packaging will deter young people from purchasing cigarettes at increasingly younger ages. The law is first and foremost an attempt to keep Canadians healthy and to reduce global healthcare costs.