A few years ago, now former Manitoba NDP Judy Wasylycia-Leis introduced a private members bill to go after flavoured mini-cigars. These products were often wrapped in bright colours, flavoured to make the cigars taste like bubble gum, fruit or chocolate, and were pretty popular with teenagers.
The government picked up on Wasylycia-Leis’s bill during the 2008 election and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq passed legislation banning flavoured mini-cigars in 2009. The ban also prevented mini-cigars from being packaged in groups of anything smaller than 20. (Critics complained the mini-cigars were often sold individually or in groups of three or four at a time, which made them more affordable for kids to buy). The law took effect in June 2010.
Today the government showed the ban has some teeth as Health Canada seized more than 25 million of the mini cigars at three warehouses in Montreal belonging to Casa Cubana, Groupe Tabac Scandinave, and Distribution GVA Inc.
It was the first time the government has seized the products since the bill came into force and came after two warning letters were issued.