Nearly 50% of cigarettes in Ontario are illegal contraband; Eliminate them
and smoking rates will drop

Youth bans on smoking have also been proven to help reduce smoking

TORONTO, April 20 /CNW/ - Government and health officials could quickly reduce smoking rates by tackling the 50% of Ontario's tobacco market that's made up of illegal cigarettes. In particular, the problem of illegal cigarettes has become so bad now it has completely short-circuited the government's system of blocking youth access to tobacco.

Law abiding retailers aren't the problem with rising smoking rates. Contraband tobacco is. Surveys show nearly 50% of cigarettes in Ontario are illegal.

Current laws forbid regulated retailers from selling tobacco to minors, but a fast-growing trade in contraband cigarettes means that young people are getting widespread access to cheap, unregulated and untaxed cigarettes. Contraband provides no warning labels, no age checks, just quick, easy and cheap access to tobacco - particularly for young people.

"Youth shouldn't smoke and retailers in Ontario perform over 130,000 age checks every day to make sure kids don't buy cigarettes," said Dave Bryans, President of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. "But when we see the growth of contraband tobacco and youth smoking rates stopping their decline, it's time to look at new tools to prevent kids from smoking. More and more jurisdictions are turning to youth bans including Alberta and Nova Scotia and many U.S. states have also adopted these kinds of laws including Ohio, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Colorado. Let's act now. Why wait?"

Youth cigarette possession bans, when used in conjunction with other smoking reduction programs, have shown to be effective. A 2009 study by Depaul University, the University of Florida and the US National Cancer Institute that shows the combination of tobacco purchase, use and possession laws, combined with existing tobacco control measures can reduce youth smoking (http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/6/1/1/).

Possession bans alone won't solve the problem, but the experience of convenience stores with the sale of controlled products and findings like the Depaul University study show that a carefully implemented ban on youth possession and use of tobacco, in conjunction with retailer age checks and existing youth prevention and tobacco control laws can make a difference.

SOURCE Ontario Convenience Stores Association

For further information: For further information: Media inquiries: Kyle Olsen, (416) 313-3031 x226


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