Can rolling papers be displayed in Ontario Convenience stores

The OCSA has seen some controversy from certain Public Health Units in Ontario around the interpretation of displaying all types cigarette papers and blunts in plain view of the consumer.

Some Public Health Units were ready to fine retailers who had these products on display, so the Ontario Convenience Stores Association went to the Ministry of Heath for clarification regarding the display of cigarette papers and associated products as we felt it was not a violation.

The Ontario Ministry of Health came back with the following correspondence that all convenience stores in Ontario ARE allowed to display cigarette papers and associated products and are ‘not’ required to be hidden from customer view in the channel as long as it is not marketed as a tobacco product.

Here is a copy of the correspondence written to our CEO, Dave Bryans:

Hello Dave,

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. The ministry would not consider these rolling papers, branded or otherwise, to violate the ban on promotion of tobacco in section 3.1(3) of the Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA). Based on our understanding of the products, they are not marketed by their packaging or labelling for use specifically with tobacco, nor are they being sold or positioned in the store by the retailer in order to promote the sale of tobacco products. For this reason, we would not consider the products, when displayed by their packaging and labelling alone, to be promotion of tobacco products.  Retailers should not be asked to remove these products from display. The ministry has communicated its position on rolling papers to public health units (PHUs) in the past and will follow up with a reminder to Halton PHU. Please note that if the product is marketed by the retailer at the point of sale as a product that can be used with tobacco, we would likely consider this to be a violation of the promotion restriction under section 3.1(3) of the SFOA.

I hope this addresses your concerns in this matter.

Laura A. Pisko, Director
Health Protection Policy and Programs Branch
Population and Public Health Division
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care