The use of illegal tobacco at high schools and post-secondary institutions in British Columbia has been found to be as high as more than 50% at some locations, according to a report released July 9th.
This is considerably higher than the percentage – 17% – found at all sites tested in the province.
The study, commissioned by the Western Convenience Store Association (WCSA), was conducted by looking at discarded cigarette butts to determine if they were contraband.
“Contraband tobacco is infiltrating our schools and this is a major problem,” said WCSA president Andrew Klukas.
“Illegal tobacco is sold without proper taxation, making its rock bottom pricing appealing to young people.”
Klukas added that this problem used to be found solely in central Canada.
The problems with illegal tobacco, according to the WCSA, include a lack of both health warnings on labels and age-verification procedures. As well, illegal tobacco has been linked to organized crime.
Some of the schools with high rates of contraband tobacco usage were Simon Fraser University (51.6%), the University of British Columbia (46.8%), Langara College (31.7%) and Tamanawis Secondary School in Surrey (24.1%).
The WCSA said it is calling on the provincial government to deal with this issue through legislation and enforcement, as well as by consulting with retailers.