QUEEN’S PARK – France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt and Health critic for the Ontario NDP, introduced Bill 106, the Better Enforcement of the Tobacco Tax Act, 2023. Currently, enforcement of the Tobacco Tax Act is done by Ministry of Finance officials. This bill would expand enforcement authority to include police officers with the goal of limiting underage tobacco consumption by Ontario youth.
“Most recent statistics in Ontario tells us that 9.9% of Ontarians smoke (11.5% men – 8.3% women). But for youth 15 to 19 years old (too young to purchase cigarettes) the smoking rate is 15% province wide and 28% in Sudbury – Nickel Belt,” Gélinas said. “The contraband tobacco market in Ontario puts our kids at risk of becoming addicted to tobacco from an early age. Contraband cigarettes are often cheaper than regulated products, making it easier for vulnerable youth to afford these tobacco products. Studies have shown that contraband cigarettes are frequently bought by youth, and that those who purchase contraband tobacco products often smoke more than those who purchase regulated products. This bill would strengthen the enforcement of the Tobacco Tax Act, by allowing police officers to act in cases where the law is not being followed” said Gélinas.
The Better Enforcement of the Tobacco Tax Act, 2023 would allow police officers to enforce some aspects of the Tobacco Tax Act, including detainment of vehicles and seizure of tobacco products in cases where the regulations of the Tobacco Tax Act are not being followed.
“This legislation is a step in the right direction in acting against contraband tobacco in Ontario,” said Rick Barnum, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT). One in three cigarettes in the province are illegal, with the Government of Ontario estimating that it loses over $750 million a year to the illicit trade. These proceeds go directly to funding criminal and illegal activities. We are proud to support this legislation as it gets all police services across the province involved in the fight against contraband tobacco.”