Evidence of meeting #67 for Health in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was legal.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Lynda Balneaves  Registered Nurse and Medical and Non-Medical Cannabis Researcher, Canadian Nurses Association
Karey Shuhendler  Policy Advisor, Policy, Advocacy and Strategy, Canadian Nurses Association
Serge Melanson  Doctor, New Brunswick Medical Society
Robert Strang  Chief Medical Officer of Health, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness
Michael DeVillaer  Assistant Professor, Policy Analyst, McMaster University, As an Individual
Mark Kleiman  Professor of Public Policy, Marron Institute of Urban Management, New York University, As an Individual
Trina Fraser  Partner, Brazeau Seller LLP
Brenda Baxter  Director General, Workplace Directorate, Labour Program, Department of Employment and Social Development
Norm Keith  Partner, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
Clara Morin Dal Col  Minister of Health, Métis National Council
Isadore Day  Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario
Wenda Watteyne  Senior Policy Advisor, Métis National Council
David Hammond  Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual
Mike Hammoud  President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association
Melodie Tilson  Director of Policy, Non-Smokers' Rights Association
Pippa Beck  Senior Policy Analyst, Non-Smokers' Rights Association
Steven Hoffman  Professor, Faculty of Health, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, As an Individual
Beau Kilmer  Co-Director, RAND Drug Policy Research Center
Kirk Tousaw  Lawyer, Tousaw Law Corporation
Stephen Rolles  Senior Policy Analyst, Transform Drug Policy Foundation

4:50 p.m.

Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual

Dr. David Hammond

I think we need to be a little careful about using the tobacco and alcohol markets, because if we started regulating those markets based on public health, they would not look like they do now. Tobacco products would not be sold. Where we're at with those markets is partly due to historical quirks and things like that. I approach this in looking at the government's objectives. If the government's objectives are to minimize and discourage use of these products among youth, I find it very hard to identify any public health benefit to allowing this sort of branding.

When I was talking about the health risks, I omitted an important point. That is, whatever the risk is, the risk of problematic use of disease and long-term health effects is worse when you start younger, addiction and everything else.

I don't want to get into carcinogen or not, because there are harmful effects from cannabis. I think it is important to compare them with other products, but where we are in the tobacco and alcohol market is not necessarily how it could be aligned with public health if we were to start.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Dr. Hammond, I was going to ask you quickly, if I can—

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Very quickly.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

That's only one of the purpose of the bill. One of the other purposes is to deter illicit activities and provide for the licit production of cannabis. We're not operating in a vacuum here. If we're going to move people from the illicit market to the licit market, we have to recognize that branding of products will be available by the illicit market. Is that not a consideration in terms of making sure that we have appropriate labelling of packaging to draw people into the licit world?

4:50 p.m.

Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual

Dr. David Hammond

I think the most important factors drawing people into the licit market are availability and price and the different types of product on offer. Anyone who uses cannabis already should not be induced to use more through branding. Branding has more impact on youth and initiation than it does on established smokers. I couldn't agree more about the desire to reduce illicit tobacco, but that's why I said that we have 20 years, 30 years of experience in tobacco and restricting branding. There is no association.

I think it's some of those other measures that you will have heard from experts about that are most important. Branding serves to induce use among young people primarily. I don't think it's going to stop a consumer who already uses marijuana and wants to buy it through a legal retail outlet.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Thanks very much. Now we go to Dr. Eyolfson.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you all for coming.

Ms. Beck and Ms. Tilson, this is something I've followed for a while, the plain packaging. Again, I know this is about cannabis, but we have a precedent already, which is why I'm talking about tobacco and plain packaging because we want to know what effect this might have on the upcoming legislation. I was glad to hear you and Dr. Hammond, as well, corroborating the effect of the plain packaging laws in Australia. I heard much of the same information. I also read much of the misinformation about it and about how heavily promoted this misinformation is. Are you familiar with the group, I believe it's the Canadian alliance against contraband tobacco.

September 14th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.

Director of Policy, Non-Smokers' Rights Association

Melodie Tilson

The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco...? Yes.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Have you heard the allegations that much of their activity is in fact lobbying for the tobacco industry? Would you agree that their activities have been that?

4:55 p.m.

Director of Policy, Non-Smokers' Rights Association

Melodie Tilson

Absolutely. In fact, we brought with us today a presentation from Imperial Tobacco to its parent company British American Tobacco talking about the contraband market in Canada and the campaign that they waged for many years ostensibly to get contraband under control, but as the presentation reveals, it's been an ongoing public relations exercise to convince lawmakers and the public that contraband is out of control. Why I bring this up in answer to your question is that the presentation makes clear that their partners, Imperial Tobacco's partners, in this campaign to deceive lawmakers are the Canadian Convenience Stores Association, the Canadian one and their western Atlantic and Ontario counterparts, as well as the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco.

The tobacco companies in Canada and around the world repeatedly raised the bugaboo of contraband in response to any discussion of a tobacco control intervention. They claimed that when we were talking about display bans. In fact, the then head of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association in around 2010-11 was going around the world to Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. saying that the display bans had caused the contraband problem in Canada, which of course they had nothing to do with. We have display bans across the country. We have a contraband problem in Ontario and Quebec where there is illegal manufacturing on reserves that is not being adequately addressed by enforcement.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Thank you.

Dr. Hammond, you look like you were nodding in agreement on this. Did you have anything else to add, or just agreement?

4:55 p.m.

Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual

Dr. David Hammond

I testify in court cases. I'm no stranger to the tobacco companies and their activities, but I must admit this past week I have been alarmed by the extent to which the tobacco companies have been infiltrating this discussion. I'll just leave it at that.

4:55 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

Can I comment because I want to make it very clear?

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

I actually have a question for you, sir.

4:55 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Then you can make your comment after I ask this question.

4:55 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

I'm not here because of them, just so we're clear.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

I have a question for you and then you can make a comment, sir. This is a story from The Globe and Mail dated April 2017. It says, “CCSA has financial ties to tobacco companies and has faced recent criticism for working with at least one major tobacco company to promote industry interests.”

It then goes on to say:

Last fall, Imperial Tobacco documents made public by non-smoking advocacy groups indicate the company worked with CCSA on cross-country campaigns to promote the industry's interests, including lower tobacco taxes and focusing attention on the problem of contraband tobacco. CCSA members include Imperial Tobacco, JTI-Macdonald Corp. and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges.

For the record, does the CCSA lobby for the interests of the tobacco industry, yes or no?

4:55 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

I would say that we lobby for the interest of convenience store retailers.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

So you deny that you lobby for tobacco companies.

4:55 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

We lobby for every one of our members. I don't appreciate that we're being tailored to one product and one product only. Let's just be clear on something.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

No, I'm not saying that you don't do any others. I'm saying in regard to this industry. Do you lobby for this industry among your activities?

4:55 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

We don't lobby for them. We lobby for ourselves because you have to understand our business. I don't think people have any understanding of what a convenience store is in this country, or what we do, or any of that.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

I'm not talking about what convenience stores do. I'm talking about—

4:55 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

You are, because you're saying that the only reason I'm here today having a conversation about plain packaging is that I want to do it for the benefit of big tobacco. You need to understand something. It has nothing to gain from marijuana, or from cannabis, from any of that. It is not even in that business anywhere in the world. It has nothing to gain from this.

We have nothing to gain from marijuana because we're under the perception that it's probably going to be sold by government agencies across the country.