OAKVILLE, ON, April 9 /CNW/ - Members of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) were encouraged to see health groups becoming vocal about contraband cigarettes at a Queen's Park news conference yesterday. Contraband cigarettes account for nearly 50% of all cigarettes sold in Ontario and have played a major role in driving over 800 small, family-run convenience stores out of business in the past year.
"Youth shouldn't be smoking - period. But more are smoking because of cheap and easily available contraband cigarettes. We've been ringing alarm bells about the growth of contraband cigarettes and their affect on youth since 2007. We're pleased to see some new voices starting to echo our concerns with the easy access youth have to cigarettes because of contraband tobacco," said Dave Bryans, President of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. "We've studied the problem of youth access to contraband first hand by analyzing cigarette butts from around high schools for the last three years and it's clear that youth are increasingly the target of the criminal networks that distribute contraband tobacco in Ontario."
RCMP law enforcement reports indicate that over 100 different organized crime groups are involved in the smuggling and sale of illegal cigarettes. Police also indicate that the same criminal gangs who control the contraband tobacco trade are using profits to finance the smuggling of other products across the border such as drugs, people and guns - into our communities.
"Members of the OCSA are responsible community retailers. We take our duty to prevent youth from purchasing age restricted products like tobacco very seriously and according to testing done by Health Canada, our stores have a nearly 95% success rate in preventing minors from buying tobacco," added Bryans. "But even one sale to a minor is too many and that's why we've invested heavily in our We Expect ID age testing program. We Expect ID is active in over 7,500 stores across Ontario and through swipe card technology and rigorous employee training aims to eliminate errors when selling tobacco products."
SOURCE Ontario Convenience Stores Association
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