TORONTO, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) welcomes and applauds the debate about contraband tobacco in the Ontario legislature sparked by Bill 199, An Act to Amend the Tobacco Tax Act, brought forward by MPP Toby Barrett. The Coalition urged all parties to use this occasion to make a serious effort to combat the spread of illegal cigarettes.
"Every politician at Queens Park should be shocked and alarmed at the crisis of contraband tobacco. Nearly 50% of the cigarettes in Ontario have been smuggled by organized crime rings and the problem has now grown so large that there's no easy or simple solution," said Gary Grant, Spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco. "If we're not talking about the problem, we'll never solve it, so we think all possible solutions should be examined and debated. If we don't get serious about contraband tobacco, the more serious crime smugglers bring - guns and drugs - will only grow larger in our communities."
The NCACT is in the midst of a 10 city tour around Ontario raising awareness about the problem of contraband tobacco - particularly as it involves kids and the increasing access they're getting. The tour has already visited Ottawa, Cornwall, Windsor and London to reveal the results of a study that looked at the amount of contraband found outside schools in communities across the province.
Despite all anti-smoking efforts underway at all levels of government, the rate of contraband found around high schools in Ottawa and Cornwall hasn't declined. And in Windsor, the rate of contraband has actually increased since last year. It's having the effect of undermining government anti-smoking initiatives.
"After talking extensively with the RCMP and other law enforcement officers, government officials and others on our tour of Ontario, it has become clear that no one solution will fix the problem," added Grant. "We believe a workable approach to the problem should include examining options such as enforcement, a youth possession ban on tobacco, the way taxes are applied and more education. All three parties at Queen's Park need to get serious about contraband and it's our hope that this debate today will be the springboard to action that will make a difference."
SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
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