Rothmans, Benson & Hedges is threatening to close a tobacco factory near Quebec City over Bill C-32, which is an amendment to the tobacco act that would prohibit the sale of flavoured cigarette products in Canada. The legislation is an attempt to ban those candy flavoured cigarillos that tobacco companies market to children. But the problem is that--so R,B&H allege--the same flavours are used in certain brands of cigarette targeted to adults, and banning them would in effect ban the manufacture of these cigarettes.
Since Quebec City counts as the CPoC's base in that province, a number of Tory MPs have spoken out against Bill C-32 in its present form, including Julie Coulliard's ex Maxime Bernier (and in fact the entire Quebec CPoC Caucus).
What's interesting is the cognitive dissonance between Bernier and Co. and those Torys still in support of C-32. On the one hand, Bernier blames Health Canada for (deliberately?) writing the law too broadly:
...as drafted by Health Canada bureaucrats, the text of the bill has a reach that is so broad that it would also forbid the use of hundreds of other ingredients, in particular those used in the production of American blended cigarettes. This blend contains among other things Burley tobacco, and the ingredients added to it are only used to modify in an imperceptible way the bitter taste of this type of tobacco without giving it a specific aroma like that of fruits or candy.
On the other hand, Conservative supporters of the Bill are implying that they approved the current language for a purpose:
"The goal of Bill C-32 is to make tobacco products less affordable, less accessible and less appealing to the most vulnerable segment of our population -- young people," wrote Josee Bellemare, press secretary to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq in an email to the National Post yesterday.
Assistant deputy minister Paul Glover conceded before the Senate committee that he realizes additives to American blend cigarettes "are not meant to be a distinguishing flavour." But, they make bitter tobacco smoother. And "a product that is easier to smoke and less harsh is easier for youth to start." Any attempt to exempt American cigarettes would create a "loophole," he argued, through which child-luring tobacco peddlers might slink.
Any bets on which way this one will settle? I'm going with the "blame the faceless bureaucrats" line winning out.