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Local Youth Rally on Parliament Hill to Call for Plain and Standardized Tobacco Packaging

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Perth County – Three high school students from Perth County joined 100 young people from across the province on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Thursday, November 9th. The event, in partnership with the youth coalition, Freeze the Industry, highlighted the importance of Canada moving forward with the adoption of plain and standardized tobacco packaging and products.

The students attended a rally on Parliament Hill in the morning, followed by a luncheon with Members of Parliament, and then ended the day at Question Period at the House of Commons. “It was a great opportunity to see how our parliament system works,” says Kristen Behn, a student at St. Michael’s Secondary School who is doing a co-op placement at the Perth District Health Unit.

The morning rally gave the youth a chance to call on the government to adopt plain and standardized tobacco packaging. This would prohibit all promotional features on tobacco packaging, including colours, images, logos, slogans, distinctive fonts and finishes. Only the brand name would be allowed. The size and shape of cigarette packs and the product would also be standardized, prohibiting specialty packages like slim and superslim cigarettes. Graphic health warnings would remain on all packages.

“Most forms of tobacco advertising have been banned in Canada, but tobacco packaging and product design are one of the last tools the tobacco industry has to make their products appear cool or attractive to young people,” says Rachel Klaver, a Dublin resident and peer leader with the Health Unit’s “Think” team. An example, notes Klaver, are the slim packs that look like lip gloss, have pink glittery foil and the cigarettes themselves are super skinny. “The tobacco industry is obviously trying to target young women with these packs.”

Nicki Van Bakel, who lives in Dublin and is also a member of the “Think” team, explains: “We are working to create a tobacco-free generation and plain and standardized packaging is one way to prevent youth from starting to smoke.”

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Think Team on Parliament Hill

Caption: Pictured left to right: Kristen Behn, Nicki Van Bakel, Rachel Klaver, and Lyndsay O’Donnell with Mr. John Nater on Parliament Hill. Mr. Nater greeted the “Think” team while they were in Ottawa for the Freeze the Industry “Make ‘Em Plain” rally.