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.
The Loose Caboose