Québec hands the province's tobacco trade on a silver platter to illegal traffickers

Increasing tobacco taxes will fuel an illegal industry that already has a stronghold in Québec

MONTREAL, Nov. 20, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - In raising taxes on legal tobacco products in its latest budget, the Québec government has just set out a welcome mat for organized crime to increase its stake   of the tobacco market in the province.

"Given the availability of cheap illegal products, raising tobacco taxes is an irresponsible, short-sighted cash grab decision by the government of Québec," said Caroline Ferland, Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, Imperial Tobacco Canada. "Québec has simply pandered to its anti-tobacco lobby and handed over the tobacco trade to illegal traffickers."

The Government of Québec is already losing more than $225 million, according to government sources, every year because of illegal tobacco sales. Increasing taxes on tobacco products will only make a bad situation worse. There are more than 200 smoke shacks in Québec that are now ready to meet increased consumer demand this tax increase will generate .

"We understand that the government is looking for a quick way to fill its coffers. Raising tobacco taxes will only drive smokers to illegal, untaxed sources. The government will not reap the reward it expects," said Ms. Ferland.

Illegal cigarettes are sold for a fraction of the price of legal cigarettes. In addition, illegal products do not respect any of the other tobacco regulations such as display bans and not selling to minors.

SOURCE: IMPERIAL TOBACCO CANADA

For further information:

Media Contacts:
Eric Gagnon
Director of External Affairs
Cell: 438-993-5488
514-932-6161 ext: 2222
egagnon@itl.ca
www.imperialtobaccocanada.com