HALIFAX, October 29, 2015: A new study released by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association found that illegal cigarettes accounted for 22.5 per cent of the samples of cigarette ends collected at popular smoking areas near four Nova Scotia high schools.
“The provincial government banned flavoured tobacco because they were concerned about underage smokers,” says Warren Maynard, of CST Ultramar, of Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Yet, it appears the problem of organized crime targeting underage youth with cheap illegal cigarettes continues.”
A plastic bag of 200 illegal cigarettes – a ‘baggie’ – costs $30 – $35, while a carton of 200 legal cigarettes costs about $115.
The research findings are based on a “butt study” technique conducted by NIRIC, an independent, Montreal-based research firm. The research firm collected and analysed almost 4,000 cigarette ends obtained in late May from 27 locations across Nova Scotia.
“This is the sixth study we’ve commissioned in Nova Scotia since 2010,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the association. “In this 2015 study the prevalence of illegal cigarettes ranged from 5.8 per cent to 41.9 per cent, with an overall average of 21.8 per cent.”
Hammoud says that the all-site findings are a broad indicator of the potential level of illegal cigarette sales in the province: “The last three studies tested the same sites. The numbers we’re getting strongly suggest that the sale of illegal cigarettes in Nova Scotia is unacceptably high.”
The association is calling on the provincial government to enact and enforce tougher legislation.
“Ontario and Québec have done it,” says Hammoud. “And we know that at least one other province will make an announcement soon. Nova Scotia needs to step up to the plate and crack down on illegal cigarette sales to youth.”