Call for government ban on youth possession and use of tobacco; New study supports bans in reducing youth smoking

    -  Ban would complement existing restrictions on tobacco sales and add a
       deterrent to the allure of contraband tobacco

    -  New study shows a decrease in youth smoking when youth tobacco
       possession and use bans are combined with existing enforcement

    TORONTO, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - The Canadian Convenience Stores Association
(CCSA) called on provincial governments to pass a law banning youth tobacco
possession and use to help reduce youth smoking. The CCSA call is supported by
a new study published in 2009 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.
    Current laws forbid regulated retailers from selling tobacco to minors,
but the fast-growing trade in contraband cigarettes means that young people
are getting widespread access to cheap, unregulated and untaxed cigarettes.
2008 surveys showed nearly 50% of cigarettes in Ontario were illegal.
    "Youth shouldn't smoke and retailers in Ontario perform over 100,000 age
checks every day to make sure kids don't buy cigarettes," said Steve Tennant,
National Director of 'We Expect ID'. "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 bans including Alberta and Nova Scotia and many U.S. states have
adopted these kinds of laws including Ohio, New Hampshire, Minnesota and
    The Depaul University led study evaluated the effects of tobacco PUP
(Purchase, Use and Possession) laws on tobacco use patterns among students in
24 towns, which were randomly assigned into an experimental and a control
group. The experimental group involved both PUP law enforcement and reducing
minors' access to commercial sources of tobacco, and the condition for the
control group involved only efforts to reduce minors' access to commercial
sources of tobacco. The study found the control group had a significantly
greater increase in the percentage of youth who smoked 20 or more cigarettes
per day when compared to the experimental group.(1)
    CCSA has determined that youth contraband tobacco use is a problem that
continues to creep into Ontario communities. A study late in 2008 by the
Canadian Convenience Stores Association's 'We Expect ID' of cigarette butts
collected from around 155 high schools in Ontario and Quebec showed an
alarming presence of contraband tobacco. It revealed that in Ontario 26% of
high school smokers' cigarette butts were contraband, while in Quebec,
contraband made up 36% of these cigarettes.
    "If it's illegal for someone under 19 to have a beer, the same rules
should apply for cigarettes - it just makes sense," added Tennant. "Clearly a
possession ban alone isn't going to solve the problem, but our experience with
the 'We Expect ID' program and findings like the Depaul University study show
us that a carefully implemented ban on youth possession and use of tobacco, in
conjunction with retailer age checks, existing youth prevention and tobacco
control laws can make a difference. This is particularly important in an
environment where contraband cigarettes are cheap and easily available to

    'We Expect ID' Program

    Launched in 2007, the 'We Expect ID' Program is the CCSA's tough age
verification program to control the sale of age restricted products. Now in
over 7,500 stores in Ontario, the program takes a zero-tolerance approach to
keeping restricted products away from youth. With this system, anyone that
appears under the age of 25 who intends to purchase a restricted product must
present their driver's license and have it swiped as proof of age.
    In each and every case, store employees must swipe customers' licenses
through the lottery terminal. The terminal reads the age information from the
magnetic stripe on the back of each license and presents the person's age
prominently on the terminal's display. The small minority of OCSA members
without terminals must, in every case, visually verify age from the consumer's

    (1) Jason L.A., Pokorny S.B., Adams M.L., Topliff A., Harris C.C.,
        Hunt Y. Effects of Youth Tobacco Access and Possession Policy
        Interventions on Heavy Adolescent Smokers. International Journal of
        Environmental Research and Public Health. 2009; 6(1):1-9.

For further information:

For further information: Media inquiries: Steve Tennant, National
Director, We Expect ID, (905) 845-9152; John Perenack,, (416) 238-2576

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Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA)

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