MONTREAL, April 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Reacting to this morning's story in a Montreal daily about a second investigation proving how easy it is for a 15-year-old teenager to buy flavoured cigarillos on the Kahnawake and Kanesatake native reserves, the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) wrote today to the federal Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, challenging her to enforce Bill C-32 on native reserves.
"Mrs. Aglukkaq, it is a simple matter to enforce a piece of legislation aimed at Canada's 24,000 convenience stores, because we are honest people. But what will you do between now and July 5 to prevent the sale of flavoured cigarillos to 15-year-old boys and girls by the hundreds of illegal tobacco shacks located on native reserves? Do you have a plan?" asked Michel Gadbois, Senior Vice-President of the CCSA, in a letter that was sent to the Minister today.
July 5 is the date on which the sale of flavoured cigarillos will become prohibited in all convenience stores across Canada, under Bill C-32 which was introduced by the health minister and passed last fall.
"We are entitled to learn what your plan is, because otherwise, all your bill will have accomplished is to eliminate the supervised and legal sale of this product by responsible retailers and hand over, on a silver platter, a monopoly on the product to criminals and smugglers of all stripes, thereby making the product even cheaper and more accessible to underage youth than ever," wrote Mr. Gadbois.
The CCSA points out that Health Canada has acknowledged the contribution made by Canada's convenience stores to the fight against tobacco use by young people: "Econometric analysis shows that the increase in retailer compliance over time has contributed to the decrease in the prevalence of smoking among youth under the legal age to purchase cigarettes and a decrease in the percentage of youth accessing cigarettes in retail stores," concludes Health Canada's 2008 report on retailer compliance with respect to the prevention of tobacco sales to youth.*
"Mrs. Aglukkaq, after boasting last week that you will protect the health of young people with your new law, explain to us how you will go about enforcing it on native reserves. Will you send in inspectors? Will you dispatch police officers? Will you make arrests? What are you going to do, Mrs. Aglukkaq?" asked Mr. Gadbois.
SOURCE Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA)
For further information: For further information: Guy Leroux, Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), (866) 511-2481, firstname.lastname@example.org