Dear MP,

I am a private citizen and I am writing to have my voice heard on an important matter related to Plain and Standardized Packaging regulations that Heath Canada is drafting to apply to specialty tobacco products, namely cigars and pipe tobacco: (Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 152, Number 25: Tobacco Products Regulations (Plain and Standardized Appearance)).

I respectfully request you to intercede on this matter on my behalf. Health Canada has made sweeping generalizations on the matter that will be ruinous to 180 small Canadian cigar shops that are completely dependent on premium cigar sales. I respect the intent of the legislation and the proposed regulations, however, I do not support extending standardized packaging to the cigar/specialty tobacco market.

Cigars and pipe tobacco do not belong under these regulations as they represent a very small, niche segment of the tobacco market and are not what should be the main target -- i.e., cigarettes and "big tobacco."

Health Canada knows that cigars are not the target of these regulations -- it is cigarettes. However, it appears that for reasons of regulatory expedience, Health Canada has chosen to adopt the Australian Model of plain packaging and has included all tobacco products under their proposed regulations. The cigar industry hence becomes an unintended consequence of the blanket regulation.

The United Kingdom, France, Belgium, and Norway have sensibly exempted cigars from their own Plain and Standardized Packaging regulations.

If plain packaging is implemented without an exemption, prices will increase, product choice will decrease, and suspicion will arise about counterfeit products. This will only drive more Canadian consumer dollars south to the United States, to parallel markets, to international internet shops -- or to contraband. Ultimately, many small Canadian businesses will be crushed, public health issues will not be materially affected, and my own personal rights and freedoms will be compromised.

Health Canada estimates that the cigar industry stands to lose 50% of the cigar brands and 80% of pipe tobacco assortment currently in Canada. This simply means the death of the cigar industry and 180 cigar/tobacconist shops in Canada. Health Canada does not estimate how many Canadian jobs will be lost by these measures -- but the number is surely significant.

I appeal to you for your help in persuading Health Canada to take a common-sense approach before making these regulations final. Please call on Health Canada to grant an exemption for cigars/specialty tobacco products under the Tobacco Products Information Regulations.

Thank you for your consideration
(Your Name)