Plans to curb youth smoking with tobacco display bans have gone up in smoke in Canada, where a new study has revealed that teens are now buying more regularly from illegal sellers.

One in five packs of cigarettes smoked by Canadian teens are contraband, the study of more than 42,000 students by the Canadian Medical Association Journal found.

It also revealed that teens who bought the cheaper contraband tobacco smoked an average of 16.8 cigarettes a day, compared to teen smokers of pricier legal tobacco who smoked 11.9 cigarettes a day.

Britain take note

With just 10 days to go before the UK government votes on the proposal to ban the display of tobacco products in stores, Dave Bryans, president of the Ontario and Canadian Convenience Store Associations (CCSA) urged the UK government to sit up and take note of the findings.

“Year in and year out, studies conclude that those under 19, who are prohibited from purchasing cigarettes, are having no trouble getting their hands on cheap unregulated illegal cigarettes,” he said. All the initiatives that have been developed to reduce youth smoking such as higher taxes, health warnings and display bans are useless when you consider the accessibility of contraband.”

Contraband tobacco is a growing problem in the UK. Last week, UK Border Agency officials at a Suffolk port seized more than a million counterfeit cigarettes which had been hidden inside hollowed out electric fans.