A letter to the editor published in the National Post on June 30, written by Stan Shatenstein of Montreal:

Big Tobacco can act

Re: "Imperial Tobacco 'shocked' by Health Canada's proposal for plain packaging of cigarettes", June 26

Imperial Tobacco says it's “shocked and confused” by the government's proposed regulations mandating plain packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products. What's truly shocking is that a company responsible for fully half this country's annual 45,000 entirely preventable, premature smoking-related deaths has the gall to continue complaining and to even threaten to take the government to court.

Imperial should just quietly keep counting its blood-soaked money and also count itself fortunate that its products are so addictive that they can't be banned outright. Prohibition is not realistic, even if tobacco's toxicity would make it entirely warranted, but any regulations the government wishes to impose, and are based on the best available evidence, are worth adoption without Big Tobacco's input.

It's also worth noting that, while Imperial laments "a number of provisions that are basically impossible to comply with,” the industry said the exact same thing when Canada was on the verge of setting a world precedent by introducing graphic warning labels in 2001. Health groups quickly found printers who could do the job, putting the lie to the firms' complaints. Canada is not the first when it comes to plain packs, but the draft regulations are rigorous and set a number of global precedents. They should be saluted, not challenged by the industry whose unconscionable actions have made them necessary.

Stan Shatenstein
Editor & Publisher, STAN Bulletin