Identification of Tobacco Products

To confirm that the applicable duties and taxes have been paid on tobacco products intended for retail sale in Québec, manufacturers and importers are required to affix certain identification marks to their packaging.

Certain packages must have the federal excise stamp for Québec, while others must bear the inscription “Québec.”

Federal excise stamp for use only in Québec

On July 1, 2012, Québec adopted the federal identification system for tobacco products, which requires that most tobacco products distributed in Canada bear a federal excise stamp.

The federal excise stamp, which will replace the tear tape used to open Cellophane packages, contains overt and hidden security features and confirms that the applicable duties and taxes have been paid. It also indicates that the product was both made and imported legally. The Québec excise stamp has certain specific features, namely its light-blue colour and the “QC” mark.

The white tear tape can still be used with the Québec excise stamp. However, the tear tape no longer has legal value.

Under rules that came into effect on July 1, 2012, manufacturers and importers are required to affix the new stamp to all packages of the following tobacco products intended for retail sale in Québec that were made or imported as of that date:

  • cigarettes
  • tobacco sticks, rolls of tobacco or any other pre-rolled tobacco product comparable to a package of cigarettes
  • bulk tobacco other than pipe tobacco, snuff or chewing tobacco

Along with the stamp, packages of tobacco products must bear the warning message from Health Canada.

The requirement to affix the federal excise stamp to all packages of cigars is in effect as of September 1, 2013. The stamp must be affixed to all packages of cigars intended for retail sale in Québec that are manufactured or imported after August 31, 2013.

Important

A transition period will follow the coming into effect of the new identification system for tobacco products to let those in the distribution chain clear out their stock of packages of tobacco products manufactured or imported before July 1, 2012, and their stock of packages of cigars manufactured or imported before September 1, 2013.

“QUÉBEC” inscription

To confirm that the duties and taxes have been paid on the tobacco products listed below, manufacturers and importers must affix:

  • to each end of each carton of cigarettes, tobacco sticks, rolls of tobacco or pre-rolled tobacco and to each unit of pre-rolled tobacco, a rectangle at least 2.9 cm wide and at least 1.4 cm high bearing the inscription “QUÉBEC” in 100% black on a 100% opaque white background, in 10-point Helvetica boldface type and in upper-case letters;
  • to each case of cigarettes, tobacco sticks, rolls of tobacco or pre-rolled tobacco and to each container of a number of units of pre-rolled tobacco, the inscription “QUÉBEC” on at least 2 of its sides in 100% black upper-case letters 3.81 cm high;
  • to each case of loose tobacco other than pipe tobacco, snuff or chewing tobacco, the inscription “QUÉBEC” on at least 2 of its sides in 100% black upper-case letters 3.81 cm high.

Manufacturers and importers that fail to comply with the identification rules are liable to a fine.

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