Failing to address contraband tobacco is allowing Canada's youth cheap and easy access to tobacco
OTTAWA, April 20 /CNW/ - At a news conference in Nepean, Ontario today, Federal Minister of Health Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq, joined by Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Pierre Poilievre, attended a local high school to trumpet the government's self-proclaimed successes on youth tobacco control. However, one of the leading organizations fighting contraband tobacco in Canada - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) - is calling out the government for its inaction on protecting youth from the criminally sponsored trade in contraband tobacco.
"Everyone agrees that kids shouldn't smoke and our youth shouldn't have access to any tobacco whatsoever," said Gary Grant, Spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco. "So why then is the federal not doing anything substantive about the multi-billion dollar market in illegal cigarettes? While we welcome the federal government's focus on keeping tobacco from kids, the fact is that the Harper government's failure to address contraband tobacco means more kids are at risk each day."
A 2009 study by the NCACT and Canadian Convenience Stores Association of Ontario and Quebec high schools found that 30% of the cigarette butts found around Ontario schools and 45% at Quebec schools were contraband tobacco. Schools in Ottawa, like the one Minister Aglukkaq and Mr. Poilievre attended today, had a rate of contraband tobacco of nearly 25%. More detail on the study can be found at www.stopcontrabandtobacco.ca.
"The government's actions have been well intended, but have completely missed the biggest threat out there to kids - contraband tobacco. Parents and politicians need to know that efforts to keep kids from smoking are seriously at risk because of contraband. In fact, contraband tobacco is completely short-circuiting government's anti-smoking efforts - tobacco tax policy, health warnings, display bans, mandatory ID checks, government anti-smoking initiatives - they're are all going up in smoke because of the wide availability of illegal cigarettes," added Grant.
Studies have shown that the prevalence of contraband tobacco is rapidly growing in Canada - particularly in Ontario and Quebec. In both provinces, nearly 50% of all cigarettes being sold are illegal - circumventing all government restrictions on the responsible sale of tobacco products.
The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a Canadian advocacy group formed with the participation of businesses, organizations and individuals concerned about the growing danger of contraband cigarettes. NCACT members share the goals of working together to educate people and urge government to take quick action to stop this growing threat.
The members of the NCACT include: Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Retail Council of Canada, National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Duty Free Association, Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ), l'Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec (AMDEQ), Toronto Crime Stoppers, and The Customs & Immigration Union (CIU).
SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
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