Series: The 'underground' tobacco industry on Mohawk reserves
"As a young smoker, Jordan Anderson faced two major obstacles to his new habit: steep cigarette prices and laws barring retailers from selling to minors. The Toronto teenager skirted both barriers with ease, however, procuring bags of contraband smokes from a friend who regularly picked them up at an Ontario aboriginal reserve.

To a 15-year-old, more than $80 for a carton of legal cigarettes was a small fortune; $10 per 200 contraband ones was quite affordable.

“They were definitely a lot easier to come by than other cigarettes back when I was that age,” he said. “Variety stores might not sell to you but you could always find a friendly native.”

The impact of such contraband cigarettes on teens like Mr. Anderson, now 18, has become a major concern of anti-smoking and public-health advocates, who point to worrying statistics that suggest youth smoking rates have ended their years of decline, and in some groups may even be on the rise again.

Across the age ranges, previously tumbling tobacco use among Canadians has plateaued in the last few years, and health officials point the finger of blame at tax-free, unlicensed cigarettes, which cost as little as an eighth the price of the legitimate product, and by some estimates now make up over 30% of the market nationwide.

Meanwhile, First Nations smoking numbers are triple the general population, and evidence suggests their lung cancer rates, once much lower than those for the rest of Canadians, are set to climb above non-native levels."

Get the Story:
The high cost of cheap smokes (The National Post 9/23)

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Series: The 'underground' tobacco industry on Mohawk reserves (9/22)
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