Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA)

Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA)

December 09, 2013 09:00 ET

Study Shows Alarming Rates of Illegal Tobacco at High Schools, Hospitals

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 9, 2013) - Ontario convenience store retailers are expressing concern following the release of a study showing shocking rates of illegal tobacco in communities across the province.

"Looking at the figures, what's shocking is the high use of contraband tobacco at local high schools and health care facilities," said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA). "These are places where no tobacco should be present, whatsoever."

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) commissioned a contraband tobacco study, which examined discarded cigarette butts at 136 sites to determine if they were illegal (contraband) cigarettes.

The study took place in October and November 2013 and found illegal tobacco usage rates as high as 46.6% at various locations across the province. The provincial average of illegal tobacco usage throughout Ontario was 21%.

Notable figures in the study included the Windsor Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital with a rate of 46.2%; Eastwood Collegiate Institute in the Kitchener-Cambridge area that was 40.6%; the Brampton GO station that was 40.8%; Dunbarton High School in Toronto that was 36.4%; the Sudbury Regional hospital that was 37.2%; and the Oshawa Centre with a rate of 42.6 %.

"The Government of Ontario has made budgetary commitments to combatting the issue of contraband tobacco, but now is the time to act," adds Bryans.

The 2013 Ontario budget featured measures that would include increased fines for those convicted of illegal tobacco offenses, forfeiture of illegal seized tobacco items and strengthening the provisions to improve the Tobacco Tax Act. Premier Wynne also recently introduced legislation that extended the smoking ban within Ontario to keep tobacco out of the hands of youth.

The OCSA is also concluding its "Communities Against Contraband Tobacco" campaign which saw over 90% of the province via its municipalities pass resolutions asking for the Ontario government to follow through on the 2013 commitments.

"Contraband tobacco is a major issue for our 7,000 retailers across Ontario," concludes Bryans. "We will continue to work with this government until these measures are put into place to ensure the safety of our communities".

When tested with underage secret shoppers (age 15-18), convenience stores scored the highest with an 87.3% pass rate of complying with age verification testing when compared to other establishments selling age-restricted products. Family run convenience stores have proven time and again that they are the best retailers in Ontario at selling age restricted products including lottery and tobacco.

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