Ontario government refuses to enforce tobacco laws allowing illegal First Nations 'smoke shacks' to sell illegal tobacco to minors
TORONTO, July 7 /CNW/ - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is calling upon Ontario's Health Promotion Minister, Margarett Best, to immediately begin fighting organized crime and enforcing tobacco control laws equally across the province.
A study released on Monday by the Canadian Convenience Stores Association showed undercover video of teens freely buying cigarettes and flavoured cigars from First Nations smoke shacks. These videos can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/user/cstoresincanada.
Gary Grant, spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco, noted: "While the improper sale and movement of tobacco off reserves may appear to be a minor issue, it's in fact a major contributor to serious problems like youth smoking. By failing to enforce these important tobacco laws across the board, the government is inviting criminals to exploit a loophole and reap huge profits. This should not be happening and Ontario must act quickly to end it."
RCMP and border security agents work to interrupt the torrent of illegal cigarettes flooding across the US/Canada border near Cornwall, Ontario. But the ones that do get through are sold, along with home-grown contraband tobacco through First Nations 'smoke shacks'. First Nations communities are allowed to manufacture and sell cigarettes. These stores fail to comply with Ontario and federal government tobacco control laws and appear to do virtually no age testing to keep tobacco from children. These products increasingly are being improperly sold and taken off reserve sold as contraband.
"The problem of native smoke shacks isn't a new one, but it has been growing in tandem with smuggled contraband tobacco. While government has dedicated some resources to interdict smugglers, little is being done to address contraband sold from native smoke shacks," added Grant. "These cigarettes shouldn't be making their way off reserves as they are seriously contributing to youth smoking and costing millions in lost government tax revenue."
While Ontario has 36 Public Health Units tasked with ensuring retailers comply with tobacco control laws that mandate that all tobacco be covered up in stores, and that no tobacco be sold to those under 19 years of age, no apparent enforcement of these laws extends to tobacco shops on First Nations lands. At the same time, there appear to be no serious attempts by the Province of Ontario to clamp down on smokers evading taxation by purchasing cigarettes on reserve and moving them off.
The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a Canadian advocacy group formed with the participation of businesses, organizations and individuals concerned about the growing danger of contraband cigarettes. NCACT members share the goals of working together to educate people and urge government to take quick action to stop this growing threat.
The members of the NCACT include: Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Retail Council of Canada, National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Duty Free Association, Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ), l'Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec (AMDEQ), Toronto Crime Stoppers, and The Customs & Immigration Union (CIU).
SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
For further information: For further information: Media inquiries: National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco: 1-866-950-5551