New study shows teens hooked on illegal cigarettes; Convenience stores call on political parties to support ban on youth tobacco possession



    
    -   Collection of cigarette butts from around 155 Ontario and Quebec high
        schools details widespread and growing teen use of contraband tobacco

    -   Study demonstrates sustained access to illegal cigarettes by 26% of
        teen smokers in Ontario and 36% in Quebec
    

    TORONTO, Sept. 23 /CNW/ - A new study commissioned by the Canadian
Convenience Stores Association's (CCSA) 'We Expect ID' Program confirms that
teen smokers are getting hooked on contraband tobacco in increasing numbers.
These cheap and easy-to-get illegal cigarettes are being smuggled and sold
throughout Canada in record numbers and quietly undermining government
anti-smoking programs.
    While youth smoking rates are at an all-time low, this new research shows
the use of unregulated and untaxed contraband tobacco cigarettes are
widespread among youth.
    "This study makes it clear that kids, who shouldn't be smoking at all,
are having no trouble getting their hands on illegal cigarettes that cost
pennies a piece," said Dave Bryans, President of the CCSA. "The tragedy here
is that all the anti-smoking measures in place - taxes, health warnings,
display bans, mandatory ID checks, government anti-smoking initiatives - are
going up in smoke thanks to illegal cigarettes."
    "For us, a solution is clear - it's time for each of the parties in this
election to commit to making youth possession of tobacco illegal," added
Bryans. "We don't allow underage youth to possess alcohol, so why should
tobacco be different?"
    The CCSA's 2008 Youth Contraband Study was conducted by independent
research company, Arcus Group. Arcus visited 80 high schools in Ontario and 75
in Quebec to collect cigarette butts from public grounds outside school
property. Collections were done by experienced research personnel during
after-school hours. 22,498 cigarette butts were collected, examined and
classified in three categories: legal, contraband or unknown.
    The study shows that in Ontario 26% of high school smokers' cigarette
butts were contraband, while in Quebec, contraband made up 36% of butts
collected. A similar study conducted at 105 High Schools in Ontario and Quebec
in 2007 showed consistent results, with illegal cigarettes making up 24% in
Ontario and 35% in Quebec.

    
    Selected Ontario Teen Contraband Tobacco Hotspots for 2008:

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    Municipality                                        Teen Contraband Rate
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Newmarket                                                     47%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Aurora                                                        45%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mississauga                                                   43%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Pickering                                                     40%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cornwall                                                      38%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Brantford                                                     36%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Oshawa                                                        36%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Windsor                                                       30%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ottawa                                                        23%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Toronto                                                       21%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

    "We're committed to being responsible community retailers and when you
see a highly regulated product like tobacco being sold without any checks or
balances in your community, you've got to stand up and play a role in solving
the problem," added Bryans. "But as dangerous as this trend is, there's also
an opportunity for communities to come together - parents, police, health
groups and school officials - and work cooperatively to put a stop to this
criminal trade. But government can start by telling kids it's not acceptable
to possess cigarettes and that's the law."
    Contraband cigarettes are often made in illegal, unregulated factories
and sold to kids out of the trunks of cars. Contraband cigarettes are also
being illegally imported from places like the United States and China, or
illegally manufactured and sold, tens of thousands of cartons each day, right
here in Canada. They are priced cheaply, often selling for $1.00 for a pack of
20 cigarettes as compared to $8.00 for government taxed cigarettes. This all
happens with absolutely no government inspection, testing, or review. In every
case, these tobacco products are being sold without tax, robbing government of
billions in revenue each year.

    About 'We Expect ID'

    The 'We Expect ID' program is the Canadian Convenience Stores
Association's rigorous age verification system to prevent youth from getting
access to restricted products sold through convenience stores, including:
alcohol, tobacco, movies, adult-themed magazines, lottery tickets, fireworks
and other combustibles. It is a zero-tolerance approach to keeping restricted
products out of the hands of youth. Staffs at stores that are part of the 'We
Expect ID' program receive training to understand the duties and obligations
that come with the responsibility of retailing age-restricted products. More
information is available at www.conveniencestores.ca.

    PLEASE NOTE: Media interested in more information about the locations and
schools involved in this study should contact: John Perenack (Ontario) or
Guy Leroux (Quebec)





For further information:

For further information: English Media inquiries: John Perenack or Reena
Vohra, (416) 313-3031 x228, perenack@primestrat.com (quick response); French
Media inquires: Guy Leroux, (514) 993-1729

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Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA)

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