TORONTO, March 4 /CNW/ - Companies and organizations allied in their concern about the organized
crime-driven trade in contraband tobacco were shocked to hear Ontario
Minister of Revenue Sophia Aggelonitis reveal that the McGuinty
Government has decided not to introduce anti-contraband tobacco
legislation in Ontario. In recent years Ontario has had the highest
incidence of contraband tobacco in Canada and has lost as much as a
half a billion dollars per year in uncollected tobocco taxes as a
"We gave the McGuinty government a grade of 'F' for their response to
contraband tobacco in 2010, but after hearing that Ontario isn't
prepared to introduce comprehensive anti-contraband tobacco
legislation, we're at a loss to understand the government's lack of
will to take tough action on this problem," said Gary Grant,
Spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco.
"We're talking about a situation where 175 organized crime groups are
smuggling illegal cigarettes, drugs and guns into this province and the
McGuinty government is unwilling to act. It's really bewildering the
government seems to be so out of touch with the reality of the
Despite the complexity of the problem, other provincial government's
have passed legislation to fight contraband tobacco. In particular,
Quebec's Bill 59 increased penalties and enforcement powers, something
the province of Ontario could easily replicate.
"We've seen independent studies, most recently by the Centre for
Addiction and Mental Health, demonstrate that youth are getting easy
access to cigarettes because contraband cigarettes are cheap and easily
available," added Grant. "The October 2010 CAMH study revealed that
contraband tobacco accounts for 43% of all cigarettes consumed by
Ontario high school daily smokers in grades 9 to 12. The McGuinty
government talks about wanting to keep kids from smoking, but seems
prepared to stand by while criminal organizations profit by targeting
National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco continues to ask Ontario
take immediate action and enact a number of important measures that can
Fully empower Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and municipal police
officers to have the ability to search and seize contraband tobacco
shipments. Currently OPP officers need authorization from the RCMP or
Ministry of Revenue before they can act.
Allow municipal police forces to retain the proceeds from seized
equipment, property and vehicles to fund local law enforcement.
Empower local municipalities to institute penal proceedings under the
Tobacco Tax Act.
Introduce measures to better control the sale of raw leaf tobacco.
Encourage Ontario's 36 Public Health Units and their governing Boards of
Health to make education about contraband tobacco a priority.
Commit the Government of Ontario to a public education campaign,
particularly one directed at youth, to warn them not only about
smoking, but the illegality of contraband tobacco as well.
Stiffen penalties under the Tobacco Tax Act to include more serious
criminal charges in addition to the fines that are currently levied for
smuggling illegal tobacco.
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
The members of the NCACT include: Canadian Convenience Stores
Association (CCSA), Retail Council of Canada, Canadian Taxpayers
Federation, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, National
Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Canadian Chamber
of Commerce, Frontier Duty Free Association, Flue-Cured Tobacco
Growers, 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, National Citizen's
coalition, and The Customs & Immigration Union (CIU).
SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco
For further information:
John Perenack, firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-238-2576