OTTAWA, April 30, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) warns the province of Ontario that an increase in provincial tobacco taxes will fuel Ontario's booming illegal cigarette industry. This will fund organized crime endangering the safety of communities in Ontario.
"There is already more contraband tobacco in Ontario than any other province, operated largely by organized crime," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and national spokesperson for the NCACT. "Already, a 'baggie' of 200 illegal cigarettes can cost as little as $8; more than $70 less than the price of legal product. A tax increase only makes this difference wider, and the criminal market more lucrative."
The RCMP estimates that there are about 175 criminal gangs that use the trade to finance their other illegal activities, including guns, drugs and human smuggling. Ontario has done little in recent years to tackle contraband tobacco, despite having made commitments in the past to consider tougher measures, including in the last two provincial budgets.
"Ontario's lack of action has given the criminals that run the contraband tobacco industry free reign for too long. In contrast, tougher police powers in Quebec have allowed for more robust police action. Look at the Montreal example. Today, a major illegal cigarette bust was announced, with dozens of arrests tying contraband tobacco directly to the organized crime ring," continued Grant. "If Ontario was serious about contraband tobacco, we'd see more arrests like those in Quebec, and not actions that will effectively fund organized crime."
"We need to keep our communities safe. We need strong measures to eliminate this growing problem in Ontario," conclude Grant. "Higher taxes that increase the price gap on tobacco do exactly the opposite."
The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a Canadian advocacy group formed by organizations and associations concerned about the growing danger of contraband cigarettes. NCACT members share the goals of working together to educate people and urge government to take quick action to stop this growing threat.
The members of the NCACT are: Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec (ADA), Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec (AMDEQ), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ), Customs and Immigration Union, Échec au crime Québec, Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA), National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Retail Council of Canada and Toronto Crime Stoppers.
SOURCE: National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
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