Letter to the Editor – Cyndi MacMillan of Cornwall Ontario: SMOKE FREE ONTARIO ACT AND ENFORCEMENT THEREOF THROUGH THE UEOH – April 18, 2011

Dear Editor,

Legal tobacco vendors recently received a letter from Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health, at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU)  warning us of  “third party companies that have started up in the area and are offering training to tobacco vendors on the Smoke Free Ontario Act.” (SFOA).


He continues to explain that “Having a comprehensive program in your establishment can enhance your due diligence as an employer…. and to ensure there is no access to tobacco for youth…. As a tobacco vendor, your best resource for training and education can be located in the Not to Kids binder that has been provided to you and discussed at the tobacco vendor training offered once a year by the EOHU.”


The “third party company” he is referring to was created by former Tobacco Enforcement Officers who witnessed hard working, honest retailers being targeted and refused to comply with the belligerent tactics of their peers. So they formed a company that specializes in training retailers on age restricted sales, including tobacco.

The “Not to Kids” binder and the ONCE a year tobacco vendor training program offered by the EOHU is inadequate and has proven to be a complete failure as a training tool for legal tobacco vendors. The “educational” material provided by the EOHU is purposely vague and incomplete and does not address the very serious issue as to how an employer can protect themselves against negligent employees who put a business at risk. Why is Dr. Roumeliotis discouraging retailers from hiring an outside company for age restricted sales?

Dr. Roumeliotis states that “ Prevention of sales to youth is our number one goal.”  SALES PREVENTION not SMOKING PREVENTION. The Ontario liberal government spends $55 million a year on 200 plus tobacco enforcement officers (TEO) for SALES PREVENTION !  None of the $55 million is used for educating youth on the devastating harm smoking will have on their health. The money is spent on big fat salaries for tobacco enforcement officers and legal fees for challenging legal tobacco vendors in court when their employees fail compliance checks. So, a big fat chunk of that money goes to the legal firm hired to convict legal tobacco vendors.

The SFOA should not be enforced by health departments as they believe all smokers are evil and legal tobacco vendors the most evil, because we “CHOOSE” to earn a profit by selling tobacco to the public. TEO are instructed to punish legal tobacco vendors with “Automatic Prohibitions”, prohibiting a vendor from selling LEGAL tobacco for 6 to 12 months as a punishment when an employee sells smokes to a 17 year old (minor) test shopper who works for the EOHU TEO. Automatic Prohibition has proven to be financially devastating and many small business’ have not survived this financial punishment The SFOA should be enforced by an outside company, professionals who recognize that tobacco is harmful, like alcohol and gambling, yet it is legal and endorsed by the  Canadian federal government.


Hopefully someone in government will stop this perverted use of tax dollars and provide thorough educational programs to prevent young people from smoking and see to it that legal tobacco vendors will no longer be used as the whipping boys for anti tobacco lobbyists. I remain committed to preventing youth smoking.



Cyndi MacMillan

MacMillan’s Convenience

The Loose Caboose

Cornwall Ont.

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  1. Something I would like to see is to make the bad guy the bad guy. If the retailer is following the rules and the employee has just one slip up, should the purchaser not bear the majority of the blame? Should they not get the benefit of doubt?

    I hate when McGuinty talks about providing well paying jobs because it is areas like this ( 55 million on Smoke Police) that take away from the total budget.

    Are many store owners using the new hide the smokes from use cabinets for paid advertising from local companies?

  2. Negligent employees…or untrained employees? Unfortunately not all retailers are doing what they need to in order to protect themselves…. My daughter was nailed by the enforcers & we only found out through confronting other retailers about their training tactics that there was a training manual…a manual my daughter never saw or read…ANY training tool should be seen as a positive thing & an important tool to help employees protect themselves & the retailer.

  3. Bravo Ms. MacMillan! I support community education and prevention when it comes to promoting a healthy life style. I also support social consequences when health and safety is compromised for gain. What I dont support is the practice in which stores and their employees are targeted through the Secret Shopper program. I call that entrapment. The money instead should be put to better use by creating a training program for vendors and their employees that also offers incentives, support and consideration for following the rules. How many underage buyers are turned away in a day?

    People do make mistakes, but taking away months of income from a store and publically making them into a criminal is not the way to go. The current system may halt some of the sales of smokes to underage youth but lets stop blaming our neigbourhood stores by holding them totally responsable for this social and health issue. Does the Liquor and Beer Store have to go through similar traing and are they held accountavble in the same manner? I have never read or heard about the sale of booze being halted by either Liquor or Beer Store becasue an employee sold to an underage youth.

  4. A training program for retailers about how not to sell smokes to underage kids? Am I missing a good potential income opportunity here?

    What can be harder than telling employees that if there is the slightest doubt, to demand ID? Surely, it’s not rocket science, is it?

  5. Does taxing smoking not fall quite cloes to murder assisted suicide?

    Every one who
    (a) counsels a person to commit suicide, or
    (b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

    So if said law exists in the Canadian Criminal Code, and smoking has been proven to cause cancer at the molecular level, how come our government and cigarette manufacturers are not serving 14 years? But that would be in each case of a person dieing from Cance due to smoking.

  6. You’re reaching Mr. Smee. By that extension you would have to also implicate the average housewife with murder too, as she buys plastic film wrap and throws it away, it will cause cancer down the road, post-poned and at a distance. Smoking hasn’t been proven to cause cancer at the molecular level in all cases. Radiation poisoning has been proven to cause cancer in all cases. Doubling the acceptable levels of pesticide/toxins that Harper’s Doctoligists say is OK to import from the USA in our food, will cause terrible deformities down the road as the toxins accumulate.

    Murder is a matter of perspective, Smee. If you or I were to knock off some grandmothers or babies we would be up on high charges but if a Prime Minister orders bombing, shooting and killing in another country…then murder (collateral damage) is just a sort of stepping stone to a pension and it’s a good thing. Did I get that wrong? Maybe murder is hiring wonked out, crazy idiots, at Health Canada who enjoy Canada’s reputation of having the highest rate of cross contamination in the West.

    Hell, Smee – murder is our business. Suicide assist would be lovely.

  7. Waitaminute…smoking is bad for you?
    Well, that is terrible! I agree we should spend more money educatin the youngins on the dangers of smokin since people like me don’t know.
    Lets get rid of all them smoke cops so them greedy store owners can continue sellin to the youngins till they learn better!
    This is crap.
    I worked in a convenience store and I would very politely ask anyone who looked underage if they had ID. A test shopper came in and guess what? I passed. They had no ID so I had to politely say. “Sorry, I need to see some ID before I can sell this to you.” SIMPLE!
    Did I have anyone get mad that I asked for ID when they were of age? Only one person! Everyone else would chuckle and thank me for thinking they looked younger.

  8. there is something wrong with a law that allows a 16 year old to sell cigarettes….but we could not challenge the stupidity of this law…only that she had no training. I only wish that the EOHU’s tactics of sending in an underage person were used as part of the training rather then snaring the unsuspecting clerk.

  9. So what you are saying Dr Baulm is that simply because other products cause cancer there is no need to pursue one? It all starts somewhere why not with smoking
    You seem to be quite versed in semantics; it is that approach is often too prominent in decisions of state, law and morals and why we seem to be failing as a society.
    No matter how many times someone stabs shoots or beats another person to death the act remains the same. It is only to justify the needs of the people in the system as to why one is any worse than the other.
    Murder is murder

  10. Author

    Chris maybe it’s team we accept that Ciggies are deadly and that smokers should be treated as any addict would? Maybe we should simply have doctors prescribe them to patients in recovery that they only be purchased via drug dispensaries until we could slowly eradicate or reduce the habit?

  11. admin
    How does the LCBO deal with a clerk selling liquor to a minor?

    I think the same rules should apply here. I mean no matter if you work for a crown corporation or an independent distributor, selling to minors is selling to minors and the law and punishment should be the same.

    Otherwise it places question to our democratic judicial system don’t ya think?

  12. What about in Caledonia? Where the government has turned a blind eye to the illegal smoke shops ran by sixth nations…read Christine Blanchard’s new book called Helpless. Government, a bunch of hypocrites. I totally agree with Newsworthy, couldn’t of said it better myself.

  13. correction…six nation reserve

  14. I used to be one of those tobacco cops. The plan was never to prevent underage kids from getting smokes, but to punish stores who sold LEGAL cigs on a daily basis. Get that? a LEGAL product? If we were hellbent on preventing underage sales, then we’d have education programs for employees like Chris’ daughter, we’d focus on positive incentives like newsworthy wrote above, and we’d make it across the board, including LCBO, OLG and Brewers Retail!

    And I’ll challenge anyone to find evidence of a charge laid against an LCBO employee for failing an undercover sting. When a convenience store gets pinched for selling, it becomes public knowledge. Google “LCBO charged for underage sales”. It’s a very quiet subject.

    I’d just wish more retailers would speak up like Ms. MacMillan did…

  15. What? I cannot believe what I just read from xtobaccocop … the plan heh? It is total entrapment and these TEO’s think it is a joke. Well I was charged 16 months ago in a “sting” after three years of working at the same store. They can alter their appearance to make themselves look twice their age and them pray on stores – how is that fair. I go to court next Friday with my lawyer – I had better win.

  16. @ TracyP: I hope for you that things went well. It’s a sad state of affairs when clerks end up paying for an honest mistake that could have been resolved with a warning. I’ve said it time and time again: Health Units have bottomless pits of money (ours) to hire lawyers to drag you to court, but can barely scrounge up a few dimes to put together a training program that would actually HELP YOU in avoiding these charges. Does that tell you something about the system? They just want a reason to drive the store out of business.

    There is no such thing as prevention in Ontario right now; there’s only punishment for clerks and retailers who choose to sell LEGAL tobacco.

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