Growing up, I remember going to family gatherings and entering houses full of smoke. At the time, everyone around me was a smoker, except my dad. We grew up in a smoke-free house but it was not the case for the rest of my family. Since my dad had 14 brothers and sisters, during the holidays there were a lot of people smoking. My grandpa would sit by the wood stove and light one cigarette after the other. Around the age of fifteen, I smoked my first cigarette, and for a couple of years I became a social smoker. I am glad that I quit smoking for good before my three kids were born. I remember going to the corner store, not being of legal age, and being able to buy a pack of cigarettes. The cashier would never ask us for ID.
Over the years things have changed and it's much more difficult to buy cigarettes almost anywhere if you are a minor. Retailers are facing high fines if they sell to them. In Ontario, you need to be 19 years of age to buy cigarettes. In a way it's good because this helps with the progress of reducing smoking rates, but on the other hand, some people are turning to contraband tobacco, which also means that youths are becoming addicted.
I know that we love buying items at a lower price, but buying contraband cigarettes is illegal and is costing a lot for our province.
Last year I wrote a post: Get Involved STOP Illegal Tobacco and I am back with an update on this program and some findings I just had to share:
- 3 billion cigarettes consumed in Ontario are illegal, this is almost 15 millions cartons.
- 43%: daily percentage of cigarettes consumed by Ontario high school smokers that are illegal. They found a serious amount of contraband cigarette butts around school properties.
- Ontario is the epicenter of the illegal tobacco trade in Canada.
- Over 175 organized crime groups are involved in the illegal tobacco market in Canada.
What does buying illegal tobacco mean to us?
- Some repercussions of buying contraband cigarettes are that it attracts criminals into our local neighbourhoods, which puts our cities and communities at risk, including our youths.
- The profits generated from contraband tobacco may also fuel other criminal activity like purchasing illegal weapons, trafficking of drugs and funding other illicit activities.
- When you buy illegal tobacco, you contribute to a major underground economy worth hundreds of millions of dollars and growing.
- If the package has no tear strip or stamp, no manufacturing name, address or permit numbers, it is an illegal product.
If I buy contraband tobacco, what are the consequences?
- It's important to know that it is a serious crime and you could get substantial fines, confiscation of your property (including homes, vehicles, money and boats) and a prison term of up to five years.
Thick twice about buying contraband tobacco. Not only could it affect you and your family, but also our society. As taxpayers, we could all benefit from billions we are losing from the Canadian tax base.
Find out more about this serious issue:
Visit the www.stopillegaltobacco.ca website to get more information about illegal tobacco, how to take action and the impact that it's causing across the country.
To join the conversation use the hashtag #StopIllegalTobacco on Twitter.
Please watch this documentary by the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco:
Disclaimer "This post is sponsored by the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco. I have received compensation for my involvement in this campaign; however, all opinions on this post are strictly my own."