Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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Board Notes

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Board meeting notes - May 16, 2012

May 24, 2012
Stiff penalties facing those caught selling contraband tobacco Bed bug program funding ends

Stiff penalties facing those caught selling contraband tobacco

New laws give the police authority to seize laptops, cell phones and cash if they are being used in the sale or transportation of illegal tobacco and cigarettes. A proposal is in the works to allow police to seize vehicles as well.

The Simcoe Muskoka Board of Health voted last week to write a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty congratulating him for the changes to the Tobacco Tax Act, which were brought in with the Ontario budget in March.

John Niddery, the supervisor of the tobacco enforcement program with the health unit, said recent media reports indicate the police have begun to use their new powers, with one local case involving the seizure of a million illegal cigarettes being carried in a snowmobile trailer.

Inexpensive contraband tobacco undermines government efforts to increase price to the point where it reduces the number of people using tobacco and deters younger people from starting.

In the fall, more rules will impose provincial control over the growth, curing and transport of tobacco, to reduce the sale of tobacco through illegal channels.

“You can’t make an illegal cigarette if you don’t have tobacco,” Niddery observed.

He added that cooperation with First Nations has been critical in reducing the illegal transport of untaxed cigarettes off First Nations reserves. The Tobacco Tax Act prohibits anyone from purchasing, possessing or receiving untaxed cigarettes.

Bed bug program funding ends

A one-year, $172,000 funding package to battle bed bugs helped the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit successfully establish new partnerships and raise awareness of the tools to control and prevent the nuisance pests. Vector borne diseases program supervisor Ryan MacDougall told the board of health the bed bug program helped municipal and social service agencies develop a better understanding of the needs of vulnerable populations and local housing program issues. 

Money for cleaning and pest control services was used on occasion where bed bug infestations had been detected. Funding for those in need was accessed through the United Way, which screened requests for help.

MacDougall said that as of May there had been no indication from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that this special funding would be renewed. The health unit will continue to respond to complaints and requests for service, in partnership with social housing providers and municipal staff. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner noted that the health unit’s strategic plan focuses attention on the social determinants of health and this program had additional value by spotlighting the influence of income, education and social barriers on people’s health.


Next Meeting

The next meeting of the board of health takes place June 20
at 9:15 a.m. at the Barrie office, 15 Sperling Drive.

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