Coalition Welcomes New Powers For Police to Address Contraband Tobacco

New laws against smuggling illegal cigarettes will make Canadian communities safer from organized crime

MONCTON, NB, April 14, 2015 /CNW/ - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) today applauded the coming into force of Bill C-10, the Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act. With the law now in force, law enforcement officials across Canada have new tools to make communities safer from organized crime.

"We are very pleased to see this legislation become law. By creating a criminal offense for trafficking contraband tobacco, local police will have more power to stop those smuggling large volumes of illegal cigarettes," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and Chair of Toronto Crime Stoppers. "That's important, as illegal cigarettes make our communities less safe by serving as a cash cow for organized crime. In fact, the RCMP estimates that about 175 criminal gangs use the profits from the trade to finance their other activities, including guns, drugs, and human smuggling."

The Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act was first introduced during the last session of Parliament, and received Royal Assent in November of 2014. It creates new penalties for tobacco smuggling, including mandatory minimums for repeat offenders. The government has previously committed to establishing a 50 officer RCMP anti-contraband task force and adding new surveillance technology to assist police in smuggling hot spots.  

"This legislation provides meaningful action towards addressing the problem of contraband tobacco, which represents 1-in-3 cigarettes purchased in Ontario over the past year. It means that large-scale tobacco smugglers can now be charged by front line police officers," continued Grant. "It also means that repeat offenders will face certain time in jail."

While this is an important tool for police forces, there is still an additional role for provincial governments to play. NCACT has called for provinces, particularly Ontario, to add additional anti-contraband enforcement measures modeled on those successfully introduced in Quebec. Quebec's enhanced measures and financial support to local police has proven effective, with contraband in that province being reduced by half.

"With this legislation, the federal government is doing its part to help stop contraband tobacco and keep our communities safe," concluded Grant. "Anything that makes life harder for organized crime is good news for Canadians."

ABOUT THE NCACT

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, Toronto Crime Stoppers and United Korean Commerce and Industry Association (UKCIA).

SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)

For further information: Michael Powell, (p) 1-866-950-5551, (m) 613-797-7313, (e) info@stopcontrabandtobacco.ca


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