National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco applauds Senator Segal and his
call for bipartisan inquiry into contraband tobacco

"This may be the crime with the largest number of victims of any crime committed in this country." - Hon. Hugh Segal

TORONTO, May 20 /CNW/ - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) applauded the Hon. Hugh Segal for spurring on debate about contraband tobacco in the Canadian Senate and for urging both parties to strike a bipartisan special Senate Committee inquiry into the explosive problem of contraband tobacco in Canada. In the absence of meaningful action to stem this black market in tobacco driven by organized crime, NCACT members welcome this debate and urge all Senators to support an immediate and open dialogue on the problem.

Excerpts from Hon Hugh Segal's Senate comments:

"If we do not act, we avert our eyes from an illegal activity that harms young people, reduces tax revenues, hurts First Nations, hurts the credibility of the police, harms our health care system and population health, hurts small business and hurts the very integrity of our borders," said Segal. "That illegal activity enriches criminal biker networks, illegal manufacturers and terrorist, prostitution and illegal drug networks. These are networks that use illegal arms to prey upon and, when necessary, simply eradicate citizens who stand in their way. If we permit all of this happen, we are saying that the rule of law - fundamental to how a democracy balances freedom and order - is actually negotiable, or worse, a side-car afterthought."

"If the illegal importation, sale, financing, manufacture, distribution and export of tobacco is not addressed, what other illegal acts are we, by extrapolation, also tolerating? Are we tolerating the illegal smuggling of children for prostitution; the illegal importation of counterfeit pharmaceuticals; the illegal violation of copyright laws established to protect intellectual property?" added Segal.

The Contraband Tobacco Problem

RCMP law enforcement reports indicate that 175 organized crime groups are involved in the smuggling and sale of illegal cigarettes. Police also indicate that the same criminal gangs who control the contraband tobacco trade are using profits to finance the smuggling of other products across the border such as drugs, people and guns - into our communities.

Studies have shown that the prevalence of contraband tobacco is rapidly growing in Canada - particularly in Ontario and Quebec. In Ontario, and independent study revealed that 48.6% of all cigarettes being sold are illegal - circumventing all government restrictions on the responsible sale of tobacco products - and easily accessible to young people at lunch-money prices. In addition, more and more police arrests and seizures are occurring in Atlantic & Western Canada, where the illegal traffic is growing at an unprecedented rate.

About NCACT

The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a Canadian advocacy group formed with the participation of businesses, organizations and individuals 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 include: Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Retail Council of Canada, National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Duty Free Association, Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ), l'Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec (AMDEQ), Toronto Crime Stoppers, and The Customs & Immigration Union (CIU).

SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)

For further information: For further information: Media inquiries: John Perenack, perenack@primestrat.com (quick response), (416) 238-2576


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