The Minister of Health made announcements today concerning changes to the Smoke Free Tobacco Act in Ontario and below please find the highlights of this announcement as well as link to the announcement and the OCSA press release of late today. We will have the opportunity to meet with various MPP’s and present options as this opening of the SFOA Act goes through the process. Hopefully we will have the ability to correct the vicarious liability issues with the original act and will be asking key retailers to assist us with the legal support to articulate this.
The proposed measures include:
- Prohibiting smoking on playgrounds, sport fields, and restaurant and bar patios.
- Increasing fines for those who sell tobacco to youth, making Ontario’s penalties the highest in Canada.
- Banning the sale of flavoured tobacco products to make smoking less appealing to young people.
- Strengthening enforcement to allow for testing of tobacco in waterpipes in indoor public places.
- Prohibiting tobacco sales on post-secondary education campuses and specified provincial government properties, such as Macdonald Block in Toronto and 1 Stone Road in Guelph.
Retailers Support Smoke Free Youth in Ontario
TORONTO (November 13, 2013) – On behalf of the over 7,000 convenience store retailers operating in Ontario, the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) commends the provincial government for its commitment to reduce tobacco consumption amongst underage youth.
“Our members take pride in our responsible retailing mandate and we view ourselves as an active partner with the Ontario government in reducing youth consumption of tobacco products,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the OCSA. “Our retailers receive extensive age-testing training, including a comprehensive and free online program called We Expect I.D., which is offered by the OCSA to all retailers.”
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 over and over that they are the best retailers in Ontario at selling age restricted products including lottery and tobacco.
“Our retailers recognize the important role we play in terms of preventing youth access, and under no circumstances do we condone the sale of tobacco products to minors,” adds Bryans.
The Association also reminds the government that they must accompany any ban of flavoured tobacco products with equally tough measures to combat contraband tobacco as history has shown that bans of legal tobacco products give illegal manufacturers the opportunity to sell the products in the black market.
“There is a long history of contraband tobacco in our province. We are concerned that a product ban will fuel this existing illegal market and negate the intent of the bans themselves,” warns Bryans.
The unintended consequence of product bans is best evidenced by the results of the federal government’s ban on little cigars. The RCMP saw a nearly 1000% increase in the number of little cigars seized following the implementation of the ban in 2010 (140,000 seized in 2010 vs. 1,164,000 in 2011).
“Any legislation that impacts the sale of legal tobacco must be complemented by deterrence and enforcement measures to address the illegal tobacco trade,” stated Bryans. “While the Ontario government has promised to tackle contraband tobacco through its budget commitments, we have yet to see enforcement and deterrence measures put into place.”
According to Ontario’s Auditor General, additional revenue enforcement against contraband tobacco could help the province recoup more than $500 million annually. This lost tax revenue would not only help reduce Ontario’s deficit but also fund vital social programs such as health care.
The OCSA is urging the Ontario government to consult further with small businesses to address the unintended consequences which may occur as a result of a flavour ban, and also to partner with the Association on age verification training of retailers across the province. The Association is also requesting the Ontario government to follow through on all budget commitments related to contraband tobacco.