TORONTO - A new study says one-quarter of Ontario smokers avoided paying hefty tobacco taxes by purchasing their smokes from aboriginal reserves.

A report commissioned by the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit says tobacco taxes are usually a good way to stop people from smoking.

But the report's authors say the increasing availability of contraband smokes smuggled from the United States to aboriginal reserves is undermining the government's efforts.

The study found the Ontario government failed to collect $72.3 million in taxes between January 2005 and June 2006 because of smuggled cigarettes.

The federal government lost out on almost $50 million in uncollected taxes during that same period.

The report's authors recommend cracking down on those selling illegal cigarettes and encouraging aboriginal reserves to collect their own tobacco taxes.