Manitoba shows grit in tackling First Nations tobacco trade

It is now time for Quebec and Ontario to step up and follow Manitoba's lead

MONTREAL, Nov. 9, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - As Canada's leading legal tobacco company in Canada, Imperial Tobacco Canada congratulates the Government of Manitoba for its leadership in addressing the supply of untaxed and unregulated tobacco sold by First Nations-owned Chundee Smoke Shop.

"Manitoba is leading the way on this important and complex societal issue. The province has taken decisive action to confront a problem that other provinces, most notably Ontario and Quebec, have shied away from for fear of political fall-out," said Caroline Ferland, vice-president, Corporate Affairs. "It is reassuring to see that at least one province believes that there should not be two sets of tobacco laws in this country. It is time for other provinces to follow suit."

Imperial Tobacco Canada recognizes that the sale of tobacco by First Nation communities is a complex issue to resolve but ignoring the problem only makes it worse. It is now time for governments to show real leadership and find concrete solutions that will resolve this problem once and for all.

"First Nations have a significant role to play in addressing this issue and the federal and provincial governments must work with them to find solutions that will ensure Canada's tobacco laws are respected,"  said Ms. Ferland. "Whatever your position on tobacco products, it is uncontestable that legal tobacco - taxed, regulated, and subject to hundreds of restrictions under the law - pours millions of dollars into provincial coffers each year. Today, tobacco products sold by First Nations do not respect  the tobacco laws and pay nothing back."

A court order sought by the Manitoba Attorney General and issued on November 5 will allow the Manitoba government to take ownership of the controversial First Nations-owned Chundee Smoke Shop. The provincial government says the court ruling "further validates our position that the possession and sale of non-Manitoba 'marked' tobacco products are illegal, as specified under the provisions of the Tobacco Tax Act. The Act applies to all tobacco sales on- and off-reserve, by both Aboriginal owned and non-Aboriginal owned businesses." With more than 350 smoke shacks in Ontario and Quebec, it is estimated that Ontario loses approximately $500 million in tax revenue every year because of untaxed and unregulated tobacco while Quebec's estimates are at $225 million.

SOURCE: IMPERIAL TOBACCO CANADA

For further information:

Media Contact
Eric Gagnon
Manager, External Affairs
1-514-932-6161 Ext. 2222
egagnon@itl.ca