Government officials challenged to reduce smuggling in their ridings to 10 per cent in 2010
OTTAWA, May 17 /CNW/ - On the heels of a new cigarette butt study that reveals the illegal use of contraband tobacco at noted Canadian buildings including the Supreme Court of Canada, the Harper Government was called on publicly today by the convenience store owners of Canada to personally commit to reducing contraband tobacco to 10 per cent by the end of the year.
As part of the 10% - 2010 Contraband Objective Campaign led by the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), new studies of cigarette butts confirm the spread of contraband in Ottawa as well as its popularity among minor high school students. As the contraband situation has heightened over the past seven years, convenience store owners in Ottawa are showing great solidarity and speaking as one voice to demand that MPs commit to a clear target now.
"Despite numerous calls to action by convenience store owners over the past three years, the government results so far in fighting contraband are not significant so it's not surprising that government employees and visitors to the Supreme Court and other government properties are smoking contraband tobacco." says Michel Gadbois, Senior Vice-President of the CCSA. "We've seen the problem escalate and become more and more widespread."
An assessment of cigarette butts undertaken in April near federal government properties included the Supreme Court of Canada; 140 O'Connor Street (the offices of the Finance Minister) and local high schools. The percentage of contraband tobacco use at the Supreme Court was 22 per cent; 140 O'Connor Street, 32 per cent; VIA Rail Station, 23 per cent; and Rideau High School, 39 per cent. Of the six high schools surveyed, one of every five cigarettes collected was contraband. (See attached table).
"Government officials can do a lot to mobilize the community, but first they have to mobilize themselves," says Chris Wilcox, Vice-President of Quickie Convenience Stores. "Since smuggling is happening where they live, in their own back yards, it's their responsibility. It's their corner store retailers that are suffering from it, and it's the minors in their riding who are being provided cheap cigarettes daily by criminals," he observed. "The bottom line is that we don't want to see our youth smoking. Now is the time to eliminate the ease in which minors can access contraband tobacco."
To incite elected officials to take on this commitment, the convenience store owners are offering 10 suggestions for tangible measures to be enacted locally to tackle the problem. These range from starting dialogue and interaction with schools, municipalities and police authorities to spending time behind the counter with their local convenience owners. The campaign also suggests government officials contact concerned cabinet ministers and work to raise awareness among community members about the dangers of contraband tobacco.
"It is quite shocking to see a 22 per cent incidence of contraband tobacco on the grounds of this country's highest legal institution," said Mr. Gadbois. "This surely is a strong signal that the problem is out-of-control."
"If Mr. Harper takes up this challenge, his government will benefit from the wholehearted and enthusiastic support of the 50 to 80 convenience stores in their riding along," Mr. Gadbois added. By reducing smuggling to 10 per cent, the CCSA believes that there will no longer be enough of a market to sustain the smugglers and that they will quickly stop investing time and money in this illicit trade, which, in practice, should bring smuggling to zero.
The study on cigarette butts, as well as the leaflet to MPs, can be downloaded from the site devoted to the ACDA campaign: www.10-2010contrabandobjective.com.
SOURCE Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA)
For further information: For further information: Dianna Eakins, Media Contact, Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Cell: (905) 630-4208, Email: email@example.com