The Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) has expressed concerns about the Bill S-5, a law that mandates plain and standardised packaging for tobacco products.

Small traders, retailers and distributors have called on Canadian lawmakers to reform the bill, which is awaiting Royal consent.

The bill is currently being assessed by the Senate after the House of Commons made some amendments.

Once it comes into effect, vaping products will be subjected to the existing tobacco regulations, with retailers complaining about the different treatment applied to marijuana cigarettes.

CCSA president Satinder Chera said: “The government’s contradictory approach defies logic. Canada’s own Health Minister has said that labelling on marijuana cigarettes is necessary to give adult consumers the information they need to make informed, educated decisions.

“Why would we not want adult consumers to make the same kinds of informed decisions about tobacco, or vaping products too?”

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“Canada’s own Health Minister has said that labelling on marijuana cigarettes is necessary to give adult consumers the information they need to make informed, educated decisions.”

The organisation urged the government to remove the clauses in the bill that restrict retailers from sharing communication regarding vaping products with customers in stores.

It pointed to the differential treatment given to cannabis companies, which are allowed to develop ‘attractive’ and ‘unrestricted’ lifestyle advertisements to lure youth.

The distributors said that the proposed plain and standardised packaging could prove detrimental to the government’s purpose of minimising consumption of tobacco as it makes way for a potential rise in the illicit market for contraband tobacco.

National Association of Convenience Store Distributors president Anne Kothawala said: “The increase in access and use of contraband tobacco in Canada is already a cause for concern, with rates as high as 65% in northern Ontario.

“Despite warnings from law enforcement agencies, the government is promoting legislation that will allow the illegal market to thrive.”

The associations cited examples of countries where the adoption of plain packaging has failed to curb tobacco consumption, while small retailers and distributors stated that the government should put in place standard regulations for tobacco and cannabis packaging.