Contraband tobacco is any tobacco product that is not taxed or regulated and frequently comes from native reserves. It is illegal.
Contraband tobacco is more easily recognized by the public as 200 cigarettes in a clear plastic bag with no health warning or labels, sold for a much cheaper price than regulated cigarettes.
Chemicals and more:
There are more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes that can cause lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and stroke. Smoking ANY cigarettes is harmful and can cause serious illness and disease whether they are cheap or taxed. According to some media reports insect eggs, mould, dead flies and, human feces have all been found in contraband tobacco. Contraband cigarettes tend to be much cheaper than regulated cigarettes, but have just as many chemicals as tobacco purchased from regular sources like stores and gas stations.
Contraband tobacco is illegal:
Contraband tobacco is illegal. The federal government is responsible for investigating reports of contraband tobacco. Fines for possession of contraband tobacco are substantial.
Contraband tobacco has been linked to organized crime activities. Money raised from the sale of illegal tobacco supplies other criminal activity.
Why we need to be concerned:
Contraband tobacco has a direct impact on youth. Youth are price-sensitive and the cost of cigarettes plays a role in preventing youth from smoking, and encouraging those who do to quit.
The cheap price and easy access to contraband tobacco has an impact on people who have quit smoking, and those who are trying to quit. Often the taxes on regulated tobacco motivate people to make a quit attempt or to stay smoke-free. When someone has easy access to cheap tobacco, they are less likely to quit.
Cigarettes and taxes
When the cost of cigarettes goes up, smoking rates go down. When the price of cigarettes goes up by 10%, there is a 4% decrease in smoking rates.
Regulated tobacco products are taxed by the provincial government ($24.70 is added to the price of every carton). A portion of this tax money goes directly to health care costs to help pay for the care of people sick with smoking-related illness and disease. The direct healthcare costs from smoking costs the province of Ontario over $1.5 billion every year.
Simply reducing tobacco taxes is not and cannot be part of the solution to the contraband tobacco problem. Ontario and Quebec have the lowest tobacco taxes in Canada, but the highest rates of contraband tobacco use.
We can help you quit!
Smoking ANY cigarettes or tobacco is harmful. It is our goal to assist those who want to quit. For more information on quitting, contact the quit line at 519-539-9800 x 3496.
More information on contraband tobacco