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27-July-2010
Selling cigars to children

We're strongly supportive, usually, of private enterprise. Investors and entrepreneurs create the jobs and products and wealth in our society.

But there are limits, and candy-flavoured cigarette and cigarillos -- and now cigars -- are, we believe, well beyond the limit of what most Canadians find acceptable.

Last fall, the federal government banned fruit- and candy-flavoured cigarillos, which had been a rare growth segment for the tobacco companies. They insist, without smirking, that the products are not aimed at young people.

The ban allowed for a phasing-out period, which has just ended. But private enterprise is endlessly agile. Instead of phasing out their flavoured, filtered cigarillos, the makers spent the time finding a way around the ban, published reports say. New products, still with filters but now just a little heavier than the upper limit defining a cigarillo, are turning up across Canada.

The packaging is almost identical, except that the word "cigarillo" has been replaced by "cigar." It had, unfortunately, never occurred to Parliament that anyone would sell flavoured cigars.

Summary beheading tends to upset civil libertarians, so some other remedy will have to be found. Perhaps a 25,000 per cent tax on flavoured tobacco would do the job.

Seriously, new legislation will be needed, and promptly, if society hopes to head off the tobacco peddlers.

And while our governments are at it, they really should summon the nerve to tackle the ever-present problem of grey-and black-market tobacco-product sales via First Nation reserves across Canada.


Source: The Victoria Times Colonist