To conduct this study, researchers analyzed over 18,000 cigarette butts found across Ontario to determine how many were obtained illegally. The results indicated that more smuggled cigarettes were smoked this year than in the last four years.
The president of the Ontario Convenience Store Association Dave Bryans, acknowledges that this study is not scientific, however he said, it does give a good indication of cigarette purchasing trends. Additionally, since the same research has been carried out every year for the last ten years, it allows for a good comparison.
In line with the figures obtained by this research, another study published earlier this year reported similar findings, indicating that 32% of people in Ontario reported buying contraband cigarettes, with the largest percentage of them found in northern Ontario. “Everybody agreed but nobody has a solution,” said Bryans, “It’s really gotten out of control and I don’t think the government has any idea on how to fix it.”
Consumers respond to increased prices by turning to the black market
The association thinks that this problem stems from the increased cigarette taxes. “What are you going to do if you’re an addicted smoker, a blue-collar worker?” said the association’s president, “[The government has] been convinced that higher taxation will help people quit smoking,” he said. “Not if you have a resource that you can’t ignore.”
In Line with Bryans’ argument, Public Health experts have been incessantly pointing out that , that consumers’ likely response to raising prices on tobacco products, or making them unavailable, would be turning to contraband products, and this behaviour has infact been observed in a number of countries.
Read Further: CBC