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Canada on edge of global fight over tobacco packaging

Canada’s government is watching and waiting as a global fight over tobacco packaging laws plays out.

Tobacco companies and business lobbyists around the world are pushing back against rules that further restrict the design of tobacco product packaging. That includes efforts to ensure the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement doesn’t include carve-outs that allow for the tobacco industry to be regulated more harshly than others.

Where lobbying hasn’t worked, a few large tobacco producers have sued several governments in recent years through international arbitration and domestic courts for introducing so-called plain packaging laws.

Those laws typically require that health warnings cover all or most of tobacco packages, and ban any designs that make the packages attractive or easily distinguishable from one another.

Canada’s government is likely to take on the issue of stricter tobacco packaging rules, say groups that support and oppose such measures. If and when it does, it could expose itself to similar legal action.

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