contraband cigarette smoking

New plain packaging regulations for Canadian tobacco products are coming into effect in November 2019 for manufacturers and February 2020 for Retailers.

Among the regulations:

  • Brand colours, graphics and logos on packages are prohibited, and a drab brown colour is required to appear as the base colour for all brands; brand names can still appear on packages, but in a standard way for all brands; health warnings will remain on tobacco packages.
  • Slim and superslim cigarettes, as well as stylish “purse packs,” are banned.
  • Cigarettes longer than 85 mm are banned.
  • Cigarette packages must be in a standardized slide and shell format, thus increasing warning size and effectiveness; special package formats will no longer be able to appear.
  • Canada is requiring the largest health warnings on cigarette packages in the world in terms of surface area.
  • Branding and other promotions on the cigarette itself in prohibited, and cigarettes must have a flat end without holes or recesses.

For retailers and manufacturers, this likely means changes in how tobacco products are now displayed.

According to Canada Convenience Store News, in Australia – which implemented plain packaging in 2012 – price has become a determining factor for tobacco sales. Without an image on the package, customers are choosing the cheapest option.

It has also, in some cases, increased wait times as it can be harder for staff to find the requested tobacco product — for example, if someone requests a specific brand, the staff has to look further than just the packaging to see if that is correct brand. Three out of four Australian retailers have seen an increase in transaction time.

This has had another effect: an increased risk of robbery. In Australian convenience stores where it takes longer for staff to find the requested brand, that means more time with their back turned to the customers – and more opportunity for thieves to strike.

Two-thirds of Australian retailers say it takes more time to train staff after the changeover.


How to Adapt

According to Canada Convenience Store News, retailers can plan for the changeover by:

· Watching stock levels.

· Negotiating tobacco suppliers to take back/swap unsaleable stock.

· Getting to know the new look of each SKU.

· Training staff on procedures and prepare for customer questions.

· Paying close attention to selecting the right SKU for the consumer.

· Evaluating and strengthen security procedures.

· Deciding on the best tobacco layout for your store and consistent brand placement on the shelves behind the flaps.