October 29, 2015 - 1:00 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - As the province with the most contraband cigarettes in Western Canada, the amount of illegal tobacco in B.C. remains steadily high.
The statistics come from the latest study commissioned by the Western Convenience Stores Association. In September researchers collected discarded cigarettes at various locations throughout the province to determine which were illegally purchased. They discovered an average of 14.9 per cent of the discarded butts were illegal.
"It is troubling that no matter where you live in B.C, you can purchase and consume illegal cigarettes," Andrew Klukas, president of the association, says. "Contraband tobacco is consistently available in schools and in communities across the province, one year after our first study."
Next to Alberta, B.C. has a 50 per cent higher rate of illegal cigarettes, the study says.
Illegal tobacco is sold outside of convenience stores without health warning labels or age checks, the association says in a release. RCMP say those cigarettes could be tied to organized crime.
"Convenience store owners are very concerned about the increased access of these tobacco products to youth,” Klukas says. "Cheap, illegal tobacco is often sold out of the back of cars where no one ever asks for identification or has a care for the safety of students."
Researchers determined the locations with the highest rate of illicit cigarette butts were high schools, which had a 15.5 per cent average. The location with the highest amount of illegal tobacco overall (38.9 per cent) was outside the Passport Canada office in Vancouver.
Now that the study has concluded, the association has put forward recommendations to the B.C. government to create anti-contraband legislation.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015