TORONTO, May 30, 2015 /CNW/ - On Sunday the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). This year they are calling on countries to work together to end the illicit trade of tobacco products, citing it as a major global concern from many angles, including health, legal and economic, governance and corruption.
"The Ontario Convenience Store Association and its retailers have long felt the affects of illegal tobacco," said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Store Association (OCSA). "We support the WHO's decision to make it the focus of this year's campaign and reiterate that the illicit tobacco trade undermines tobacco control policies that help keep tobacco out of the hands of youths, strengthens corruption and weakens good governance."
In Ontario, contraband tobacco now accounts for roughly 1-in-3 cigarettes purchased. A recent OCSA study showed high schools, hospitals and other public buildings with rates as high as 48 percent, and that contraband tobacco use is more prevalent in Southern Ontario and Northern Ontario when compared to other regions of the province.
Recognizing that the illegal tobacco trade robs Ontario of tax revenues, the Ontario government has introduced budgetary measures to combat the trade. These include making it easier to stop, detain and search vehicles suspected of smuggling tobacco and increasing powers and resources to the Ontario Provincial Police to focus on the link between organized crime and contraband tobacco.
"We are pleased that the Ontario government is stepping up to address contraband tobacco," said Bryans. "It is important to note that the passage of Bill 45, and its subsequent ban on tobacco flavours like menthol, will further increase the demand for these products in an already saturated market."
"The OCSA is a critical partner in the battle against the illicit tobacco trade and we will continue to work with the Ontario government on policies that help keep tobacco out of the hands of youth," he added.
About the OCSA
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.