Barrett, Martiniuk: McGuinty approach to tobacco not up to snuff

For Immediate Release:
October 19, 2010

Queen’s Park – Ontario has a new blueprint for tobacco control because the McGuinty government’s approach simply is not working.

The Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group released a 43-page report today, outlining a wide range of recommendations which will supposedly form the basis of the government’s Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy for the next five years.

The report comes on the heels of a news conference regarding smoking last week where PC MPPs Gerry Martiniuk and Toby Barrett spoke about young people smoking and the illicit market.

“This report recognizes that the distribution of cheap, illegal cigarettes by organized crime encourages our youth to experiment with nicotine,” said PC Health Promotion critic Gerry Martiniuk. “What the report does not recognize is the fact the present government is actively sabotaging enforcement of contraband cigarette sales.”

“A key recommendation of the report includes reducing the supply of illegal tobacco products in the province,” explained Barrett. “I’ve been telling Mr. McGuinty that we have a contraband tobacco crisis for the past several years and yet he’s sat idly by as kids in places like Caledonia bike cartons of cigarettes from smoke shacks.”

The report claims that government should no longer treat the tobacco industry as a normal or legitimate business. Barrett said that statement is not fair to those legitimate companies who are licensed and remit taxes to both the provincial and federal governments.

In 2008 the Auditor General noted the McGuinty government’s continued failure to address illegal cigarettes. Interestingly enough Jim McCarter recognized that the Premier’s tobacco tax rate increases had raised the incentive to evade taxes. At that time, Mr. MCarter concluded, “As a result, it remains our view that the ministry’s current policies, procedures and information technology systems are still inadequate.”

Both Martiniuk and Barrett question whether this report will be shelved and collect dust as there have been ample warnings and statistics ignored by the Ontario government.

– 30 –

For more information, please contact MPP Toby Barrett at
(519) 428-0446 or (905)-765-8413, 1-800-903-8629