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Banning point of purchase promotion (POP):

The debate is launched !

Recently, the debate regarding the upcoming ban on tobacco displays at point of sale has heated up. Starting on May 31st 2008, the article of the Quebec Tobacco Act banning this type of promotion comes into effect. In order to better understand the issue, we have compiled a list of the most relevant arguments and facts in the attached backgrounder. Here is a summary:


Arguments and Counter-arguments :
Banning Tobacco Point of Sale Promotion

(Translation provided by the Ontario Coalition for Action on Tobacco)

  1. Point of Purchase promotion (POP) has a significant impact on tobacco use.  The most perverse  effect of this promotion is the trivialization of a deadly product.  But POP also creates an unavoidable temptation for those who are trying to quit smoking.  As well, POP facilitates a false perception with respect to the popularity of tobacco products (by leading people to believe that tobacco use is more widespread than it is in reality); this is a determining factor in the initiation of tobacco use among young people

  2. Tobacco use has been progressively declining for 40 years, a trend not only accepted but supported by society at large.  Banning of displays is simply a logical follow-up to this social movement.

  3. If tobacco was today a new product which was being introduced to the marketplace, it would be banned immediately.

  4. Despite the ban on the display of cigarettes packages, convenience stores will remain smokers’ primary source of cigarettes.

  5. Retailers recently acquired many new customers, namely all the people who bought tobacco products in restaurants, bars, vending machines and cultural and sporting establishments before implementation of the ban on sales in these locations in 2006.  The number of tobacco sales outlets in Quebec has dropped from 20,000 to 7,100.

  6. Retailers have already shown that they can easily adapt to significant reductions in tobacco use.  As proof of this, reduction in tobacco sales in recent years has been accompanied by a significant increase in total convenience retailer revenues.

  7. Once wall and counter displays and signs promoting tobacco disappear, the remaining space will be available for other types of revenue-producing promotions or products for businesses.

  8. As well, some inventory maintenance practices are likely to continue to be compensated by the industry (such as premiums given in exchange for large orders).  In Saskatchewan, sums paid by tobacco companies to retailers have in fact slightly increased since implementation of the display ban there.

  9. Most cigarettes are purchased from financially-stable businesses.  Only one-fifth of tobacco products are bought from small independent corner stores, which generally deploy much less promotion than franchise convenience stores (most receive an [annual] amount less than $2000).

  10. In Manitoba, the reorganization of displays and product placement cost on average $1700 per retailer, a one-time cost which represents 0.006% of their average annual revenue.

  11. There have been two government consultations (one on the strengthening of Québec’s tobacco law in January 2005, and parliamentary hearings in May-June 2005) in which retailer associations have participated.  The display ban was adopted in June 2005. Retailers have known for 2 ½ years that displays will disappear on 31 May 2008.

  12. POP is not (unfortunately) the last type of promotion available to the tobacco industry.  Among others, the provincial law still allows signs concerning availability and price of tobacco products in sales outlets.

  13. The only “customers” who are not aware of different tobacco brands are “beginner” smokers, that is usually minors—and it is illegal for the latter to buy tobacco products.

  14. For those who suggest that the new requirements will encourage theft, we respond: if one wants to protect one’s money, does one display it openly, or hide it?

  15. Despite the growing problem of contraband tobacco, it is still nevertheless accurate that 7 of 10 cigarettes are still accessed through retail outlets, and that 100% of industry promotions are found in these stores.