2016 Contraband Studies

News Articles

2016 Contraband Studies

Posted on Tuesday 11/01/16

ILLEGAL TOBACCO RATE HOLDS STEADY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

Highest rates found on universities, college campuses

VANCOUVER (November 15th, 2016) Convenience store retailers are expressing deep frustration following the release of a study showing the rate of illegal tobacco has held steady in British Columbia.

The Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA) commissioned its annual contraband tobacco study which examined discarded cigarette butts at 50 sites throughout B.C to determine if illegal (contraband) cigarettes were being purchased and smoked. Samples were gathered over a two-week period in September.

The average rate of contraband use at sites tested across B.C. was 14.7%, suggesting once again that illegal cigarettes are widely available across the province. The rate in 2015 was 14.9%.

Our data shows that illegal tobacco is easily accessible at schools and on college and university campuses throughout the province,” says Andrew Klukas, President of the WCSA. “Once a trafficking network and supply chain is established, tobacco can easily be swapped for illicit drugs and that should be of even greater concern to parents.”

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings on packages and without age-verification checks. Poor economic conditions, increased taxes and unintended consequences of regulations drive the tobacco market underground, making these products more affordable and accessible to youth. According to the RCMP, illegal tobacco is also linked with organized crime, thereby impacting public safety.

Community safety is a major issue in this election year and retail members of the WCSA are encouraging the Clark government to act. 

Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby remain the highest cities in the province with rates of 27.5%, 24.5% and 23.1%, respectively. Notable sites were the University of British Columbia (46.2%), University of the Fraser Valley (28.9%), Vancouver Public Library (27%) and Hugh Boyd Secondary School (23.8%).

“The Clark government has to introduce tougher legislation and use existing resources, like the Guns and Gangs strategy, to combat trafficking of tobacco,” adds Doug Hartl, a former RCMP officer and Chair of the WCSA board.

The WCSA calls on both the B.C Liberals and NDP to incorporate anti-contraband measures in their platforms as the province moves to an election in May 2017.

Location City Rate (%)
University of British Columbia Vancouver 46.2
Passprt Canada Vancouver 29.8
University of the Fraser Valley Chilliwack 28.9
Worker's Compensation Board Richmond 28.2
Vancouver Public Library Vancouver 27.0
University of British Columbia (Okanagan) Kelowna 26.8
Langara College Vancouver 24.0
Hugh Boyd Secondary School Richmond 23.8
Kelowna Service Canada Centre Kelowna 23.7
Simon Fraser University Burnaby 23.1

 

ILLEGAL TOBACCO RATE JUMPS TO 12.3% IN ALBERTA

Rates of illegal tobacco in high schools also continue to rise

EDMONTON (November 3, 2016): Illegal tobacco is on the rise in Alberta.

The Western Convenience Stores Association commissioned a contraband tobacco study, which examined discarded cigarette butts at 38 sites throughout Alberta to determine if illegal (contraband) cigarettes were being purchased and smoked. Samples were gathered between September 16th and September 26nd, 2016.

The average rate of illegal tobacco use at tested sites was 12.3% - a big jump from 9.8% last year.

“Two things have happened in Alberta since last year,” said Andrew Klukas, President of the Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA). “First, Alberta’s economy is in recession. Second, the Government of Alberta increased tobacco taxes by $10 per carton in 2015 – by $5.00 in March and another $5.00 in October.”

“Alberta now has an environment where smokers are actively seeking cheaper tobacco products and products that the government restricted access to, such as menthol cigarettes. It’s the perfect recipe for illegal tobacco sellers.”

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings on packages and without age-verification checks. Increased taxes and regulations drive the tobacco market underground, making these products more affordable and accessible to youth. According to the RCMP, illegal tobacco is also linked with organized crime, thereby impacting public safety.

Consumption of illegal tobacco has increased both in Edmonton and Calgary since the latest contraband tobacco study, which was completed in late September 2015. The rate for Edmonton jumped from 9.7% in 2015 to 11.1%, while the rate in Calgary jumped from 8.8% to 11.3%.

For the third year in a row, the location with the highest contraband tobacco rate was outside the Real Canadian Superstore along the Trans Canada Highway in Medicine Hat, at 32.5%. Medicine Hat continues to have the highest illegal tobacco rate of any municipality in Alberta at 15.2%.

“Alberta has some good tools it can use to fight illegal tobacco in the Tobacco Tax Act,” said Klukas. “We hope the Ministers of Health and Finance will work with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to give them the resources and mandate to make fighting illegal tobacco a priority.”

  Location Rate (%)
1.   Real Canadian Super Store (Trans Canada Hwy) Medicine Hat 32.5
2.   Crescent Heights High School ( Medicine Hat) 26.4
3.   Nisku Truck Stop (Leduc) 24.0
4.   Bower Place Shopping Centre (Red Deer) 21.7
5.   Eastglen High School (Edmonton) 20.9
6.   Queen Elizabeth High School (NW) Calgary 20.6
7.   Southcenter Mall 20.4
8.   Tim Hortons/Wendy's (112 St. NW, Edmonton) 17.7
9.   Westmount Shopping Centre 16.6
10.   Canada Place, Edmonton 16.5

 

SASKATCHEWAN MAINTAINS LOWEST ILLEGAL TOBACCO RATE

Less regulation contributes to safer communities

REGINA (November 2, 2016): Saskatchewan convenience store retailers are praising the Government of Saskatchewan following the release of a study showing the province has the lowest rate of illegal tobacco in western Canada.

The Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA) commissioned a contraband tobacco study which examined discarded cigarette butts at 28 sites throughout Saskatchewan to determine if illegal (contraband) cigarettes were being purchased and smoked. Samples were gathered between September 29th and October 11th, 2016.

The average rate of illegal tobacco use at sites tested across Saskatchewan was 11.7%. In British Columbia the rate was 14.7%; in Manitoba the rate was 14.7%; and in Alberta it was 12.3%.

“Saskatchewan has a relatively low tobacco tax rate and it does not regulate flavoured tobacco,” said Andrew Klukas, President of the Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA). “We believe these two factors keep the illegal tobacco rate lower in Saskatchewan than in other western provinces.”

“We know from our work across the west that increasing tax rates and banning menthol products has opened the door to the black market,” said Klukas. “Saskatchewan’s clear regulatory, tax and enforcement frameworks are easy for retailers and consumers to understand. This simple approach makes buying illegal cigarettes less appealing.”

Despite the low overall average, the rate of illegal tobacco in high schools in Saskatchewan is growing. The average rate of illegal tobacco found at the 11 high school sites samples was 8.2% - up from 6.3% last year.

“Young smokers are more influenced by law enforcement and peer activity than regulation,” said Klukas. “The best way to reduce smoking at school is through education, law enforcement efforts and a rigorous retailer training program to stop sales to minors like We Expect ID.”

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings on packages and without age-verification checks. Poor economic conditions, increased taxes and unintended consequences of regulations drive the tobacco market underground, meaning these products are both more affordable and accessible to youth. According to the RCMP, illegal tobacco is also linked with organized crime, thereby impacting local safety.

“We must continue to be vigilant,” said Klukas. “It’s clear the illegal tobacco trade is growing across western Canada and Saskatchewan should consider fine-tuning their enforcement provisions.”

  Top 10 Illegal Tobacco Sites in Saskatchewan 2015 2016
1.   Confederation Mall, Saskatoon 9.4 23.1 
2.   Grosvenor Park Centre, Saskatoon 18.6 22.3 
3.   Casino Regina 12.4 21.3 
4.   Model T Bar and Grill, Saskatoon 15.8 21.2 
5.   Vangelis Tavern, Saskatoon 18.8 20.3 
6.   Michael A. Riffel High School, Regina 12.4 15.9 
7.   The OUTside Nightclub, Regina 22.2 15.9 
8.   Mosaic Stadium Entry, Regina 6.4 13.9 
9.   Thom Collegiate, Regina 8.4 13.3 
10.   Taylor Field new 10th Ave, Regina 7.8 12.9 

Click here to read the WCSA Contraband Tobacco Saskatchewan Study.

 

 

ILLEGAL TOBACCO RATE CLIMBS IN MANITOBA

Provincial average jumps 2% to 14.7%

WINNIPEG (November 1, 2016): Manitoba convenience store retailers are deeply concerned following the release of a study showing the rate of illegal tobacco in communities across Manitoba is growing.

The Western Convenience Stores Association commissioned a contraband tobacco study which examined discarded cigarette butts at 30 sites throughout Manitoba to determine if illegal (contraband) cigarettes were being purchased and smoked. Samples were gathered between September 25th and October 8th, 2016.

The average rate of illegal tobacco use at sites tested across Manitoba was 14.7%, suggesting illegal cigarettes are widely available across the province. The illegal tobacco rate in 2015 was 12.7%.

“Illegal tobacco is once again a growing problem in Manitoba,” said Andrew Klukas, President of the Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA). “Illegal tobacco is easily accessible at schools and in communities across the province.”

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings on packages and without age-verification checks. Poor economic conditions, increased taxes and unintended consequences of regulations drive the tobacco market underground, making these products more affordable and accessible to youth. According to the RCMP, illegal tobacco is also linked with organized crime, thereby impacting local safety.

Brandon City Hall had the highest illegal tobacco usage rate at 27.2%; Elmwood High School in Winnipeg came in second at 25.1%; and Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School in Brandon ranked third at 21.2%. The City of Brandon had the highest average in the province with a rate of 20.2% at the six sites tested.

Access to illegal tobacco near high schools is growing in Manitoba. Of the 11 schools tested, the illegal tobacco rate at high school sites was 17.8% - up from 13.2% for the exact same sites tested last year. No high school in 2016 had less than a 10% illegal tobacco rate. In 2015, four high schools had less than 10%.

“Illegal tobacco can be sold out of the backs of cars making it convenient and cheap for young people,” said Klukas. “The Government of Manitoba has to beef up enforcement to keep illegal tobacco off the streets and out of the hands of youth.”

The WCSA asks the Manitoba government to be more proactive when it comes to illegal tobacco. Manitoba needs update its Tobacco Tax Act to reflect the new reality of illegal tobacco in the province. Manitoba also needs to dedicate additional resources to revenue enforcement officials.

  Top 10 Illegal Tobacco Sites in Manitoba 2015 2016
1.   Brandon City Hall 18.4 27.2 
2.   Elmwood High School (Winnipeg) 34.0 25.1 
3.   Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School (Brandon) 17.2 21.2 
4.   Vincent Massey High School (Brandon) 10.3 20.2 
5.   Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School 11.3 20.2 
6.   Dauphin Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 20) 0.0 19.9 
7.   Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute 7.0 18.7 
8.   Dauphin City Hall 14.9 18.5 
9. Brandon Royal Canadian Legi  on (Branch 3) 21.3 18.4 
10.   École Secondaire Neelin High School (Brandon) 9.2 17.5 

Click here to read the WCSA Contraband Tobacco Manitoba Study.

 

ABOUT THE WCSA

The WCSA is a not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of over 900 Manitoba convenience store retailers and gas stations. These retailers employ almost 8,000 people and annually contribute over $200 million in retail sales taxes to provincial revenues. Its mission is to foster the success of the convenience store industry in Western Canada by representing the best interests of its members and the communities they serve.

Contact:
Summa Strategies Canada
maustin@summa.ca
(613) 290.7870