Ontario’s illegal trade pervasive

| November 29, 2016

Smokers’ use of contraband tobacco is pervasive and growing in Ontario, Canada, according to a story by Antonella Artuso for the Toronto Sun, citing a new survey.

Dave Bryans, of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA), was quoted as saying that 32.8 percent of the cigarette butts collected during the survey were from illicit sources. This was said to have represented an eight percent increase over the figure for 2015, though it wasn’t clear whether this meant an eight percent increase in the number of butts collected or an increase of eight percentage points in the proportion of butts that were from illicit sources.

The finding raised questions about the effectiveness of government attempts to curb the spread of tobacco sold illegally off First Nation reserves, said Bryans, who described the situation as discouraging and shocking.

Use of illicit cigarettes was up across Ontario. Twenty one percent of the cigarette butts collected in the greater Toronto area were found to be contraband, as were 26 percent of those in southwestern Ontario, 29 percent of those in eastern Ontario, and 54 percent of those in northern Ontario.

“This is a product that has no advertising, has no promotions, no marketing plans – nothing,” Bryans said. “And you’re starting to see 34 percent of all smokers having access to the product, delivered to them in every community.”

Smokers could buy ‘quality’ contraband tobacco for an average of $37 a carton, compared to $100 a carton for a licit, taxed product from a convenience store, he added.

Meanwhile, Bryans said the continuing spread of the use of illicit tobacco should be a cautionary tale as the country moved to legalize marijuana.

It would not take much effort for factories now churning out illicit cigarettes to focus on pot production, he said.

Category: Breaking News

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