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Big Tobacco urges Canada to ensure legal nicotine competitive with black market

MONTREAL _ The president and CEO of Imperial Tobacco Canada is urging governments to use the same logic to regulate tobacco and nicotine as they plan to do for marijuana.

Jorge Araya told a business audience today his company isn’t looking for a decrease in taxes on traditional cigarettes.

Rather, Araya says Imperial Tobacco wants a competitive tax regime for other nicotine products such as e-cigarettes, which represent the future growth of his industry.

Araya says he supports a bill making its way through the Senate that seeks to legalize nicotine-containing vaping products in the country.

But he is against the provision that would require tobacco companies to have plain and standardized packaging for cigarettes.

He says branding and low taxes discourage consumers from seeking illegal products that aren’t taxed or regulated.

Araya says governments across Canada recognize the need for the legal marijuana industry to be competitive with the underground pot market and that they should use the same rationale for tobacco.

He says the black market for cigarettes represents up to 25 per cent of total sales and deprives governments of billions in revenues a year.