Canada - nearly one in five packs of cigarettes smoked by Canadian teen smokers are contraband products..

September 9, 2009 - Current tobacco-control strategies seek to inhibit and reduce smoking among adolescents. However, such strategies are probably undermined by the contraband (illegal, illicit, black market smuggled) tobacco market. Using data from Canada’s 2006/2007 Youth Smoking Survey, we found that 13.1% of respondents who were daily smokers reported that contraband cigarettes were their usual brand. They consumed significantly more cigarettes than respondents who smoked other brands. Contraband cigarettes accounted for about 17.5% of all cigarettes smoked by adolescent daily smokers in Canada overall, and for more than 25% in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Nearly one in five packs of cigarettes lit up by Canadian teen smokers are contraband products, with that figure even higher in Ontario and Quebec, says a new report from the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

Research Letter: Use of Contraband cigarettes among adolescent daily smokers in Canada, Russell C. Callaghan PhD, Scott Veldhuizen BA, Scott Leatherdale PhD, Donna Murnaghan MN, and Steve Manske EdD, CMAJ, Full Text..

“Although the use of illicit substances by adolescents is well known, the use of contraband cigarettes in this age group is striking,” writes report co-author Dr. Russell Callaghan of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

Callaghan: He added Canadian tobacco-control strategies need to address the issue.
“The widespread use of First Nations (and) native brand cigarettes, especially in Ontario and Quebec, presents a serious challenge to tobacco-control strategies, which attempt to use accessibility and price mechanisms to influence adolescents’ smoking behaviour.”

Almost 42,000 students in Grades 9 to 12 were considered in the report. In that demographic, the report said 5.2 per cent were daily smokers, with more than 13 per cent of that group claiming they used contraband cigarettes.

Students who were considered daily smokers and used contraband products also reported higher smoking rates over those who smokes legal brands. Those who had access to contraband products smoked an average of 16.8 cigarettes a day, while those would paid the higher price for legal products smoked 11.9 cigarettes.

Neil Collishaw. Research Director, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada: “There are some worrying things . . . those youth who use contraband, tend to smoke more and I think this causes me to think there’s a fundamental problems with the way we’re doing things. We’ve tried to set up substantial controls on tobacco, but youths continue to smoke, whether it’s contraband or regular cigarettes.”

The area around Cornwall, Ont., about 100 kilometres (62.14 miles) southeast of Ottawa, has been a noted hot spot for tobacco smuggling. At the end of August, Cornwall Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) seized more than 700,000 contraband cigarettes in six separate incidents. Police believe those cigarettes were smuggled into Canada from the United States.

Police say because of the temporary port of entry in Cornwall, which was set up in July, smugglers have been using the water to get illegal cigarettes across the border.

Reference: Alarming rate of contraband tobacco use by teens: CMAJ by Bradley Bouzane, Canwest News Service, 9/8/2009.

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