Ontario - NO new measures to curb youth smoking..

April 13, 2010 - Watching Saskatchewan's (SK) government make significant moves last month against contraband tobacco, and smoking in general, was a hard pill to swallow for local advocates who can't get the Ontario government to turn words into actions. (Saskatchewan, Canada - tobacco tax increase beginning April 1, 2010..)

The Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco (OCAT) was impressed to see reforms in Saskatchewan's budget, but disappointed that Ontario, for the first time in at least three years, had failed to introduce new measures to curb youth from lighting up.

"There's lots of talk about consideration for various options, but as far as concrete actions, there's just no answers," said OCAT director Michael Perley.

The Saskatchewan government recently raised the price of a carton of cigarettes by $5.40, making it the most expensive place in Canada to buy a carton. The province also announced new contraband measures, including different tax markings for tax-exempt tobacco and a better tracking system for tobacco sold on reserves. Saskatchewan also reduced the limit of tax-exempt tobacco allowed on First Nations reserves. It has been reduced from three cartons per week per person, down to just one.

"There are so many health issues of almost epidemic proportions among First Nations people, things like diabetes, heart disease & stroke and cancer," said Rhae Ann Bromley of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan. "So much of this illness is directly related to smoking."

Perley said his group hasn't been able to get information from the Ontario government on what exactly the formula is here for tax-exempt limits on cigarettes for reserves. "We get no answers," he said.

Eastern Ontario, meanwhile, Perley said, remains one of the most prolific entry points for contraband cigarettes made just south of the border, near Cornwall, primarily from St. Regis territory in the U.S. Because the majority of the smokes come from factories in the U.S., OCAT has called on the Prime Minister's Office to get involved in the issue and start talks with U.S. officials.

"That's the level that's needed," Perley said. "It's become an international issue."
While Ontario and the feds have failed to take action, Perley said more and more teens are taking up smoking because of the cheap prices and easy access associated with contraband cigarettes. "Some kids actually think native products are more natural, and as a result, not as harmful," Perley said.

According to figures from OCAT, more than 60,000 Ontario students in grades 7 through 12 smoke contraband cigarettes. "If there had not been cheap contraband, how many wouldn't have started smoking, or would have quit?" Perley asked.

While protecting health is the main goal for OCAT, Perley sounds mystified to understand why the Ontario government would allow contraband cigarettes to eat such a huge chunk out of provincial revenue, while at the same time allowing organized crime to flourish off sales from the illegal trade.

The Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) estimates that governments are losing more than $1.5 billion a year in lost tax revenue from contraband tobacco.
According to the CCSA, 22% of all cigarettes purchased in the country are sold illegally, with almost one-third of those purchased on First Nations reserves.

Perley also wants to see more municipal police forces in Ontario start to join the fight against contraband tobacco. "They could bring a huge amount of intelligence to the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), Revenue Canada, and other agencies," Perley said.

Reference: Waiting for the next move TOBACCO: Group wants province to follow Saskatchewan's lead, Posted By DAVID NESSETH DNESSETH@STANDARD-FREEHOLDER.COM, 4/12/2010.

Canada - Obama visit - help STOP cigarette smuggling from U.S..

Canada - cigarette smuggling related briefs:
Ontario - don't cut provincial tobacco taxes to try to reduce contraband tobacco traffic..;
Canada - nearly one in five packs of cigarettes smoked by Canadian teen smokers are contraband products..;
Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey - 2008..;
Ontario, Canada - illegal cigarettes are everywhere..;
Canada - half of smokers have tried to quit..;
Canada - illegal cigarette trade - Imperial Tobacco President Kemball comments..;
Canada - Imperial Tobacco Head - Illegal Cigarettes..;
Imperial Tobacco - Canada Head - Canada growing crisis of illicit tobacco sales..; Imperial Canada - stop illegal tobacco sales rather than raisng tax on tobacco..; Canada - will higher tobacco prices lead to increase in illicit cigarettes..;
Canada - to launch an advertising campaign on the problem of tobacco smuggling..;
Nova Scotia - buying smuggled tobacco you encourage organized crime..; Ontario Businessmen - want government to crack down on illegal cigarettes..;
Imperial Tobacco Canada - slow illegal cigarettes/sue tobacco companies..;
As tobacco prices rise - increase in illegal cigarette trafficing..; Canada - Obama visit - help STOP cigarette smuggling from U.S..;
Canada economic recession losing billions in unpaid tobacco taxes..;
Canada - Police arrest 46 in tobacco crackdown..;
Imperial Tobacco Survey - Canadian Illegal Tobacco Trade..;
Canada - Introduction of Tobacco Stamp to combat contraband...