OTTAWA, Jan. 27, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) encouraged the government of New Brunswick to continue to increase action against the province's growing contraband tobacco problem in next week's provincial budget.
"Illegal cigarettes are a growing and significant problem in New Brunswick," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and national spokesperson for the NCACT. "Just last week, RCMP in the province highlighted that there has been little change in the flow of smuggled tobacco into the province. If anything, the criminals are adapting their smuggling networks to limit large seizures. That's a reminder that this is big business for criminal gangs, and they are going to do what it takes to preserve it."
The RCMP has indicated that smugglers have adapted to smaller shipments to avoid large busts, like that in late November where more than 1.5 million cigarettes were seized near Val-Doucet, along with guns and illicit alcohol.
"It's important that the provincial government follow through on its commitment to create a dedicated contraband tobacco enforcement unit to address this issue," continued Grant. "Other provinces have shown that the surest way of making a meaningful reduction in contraband tobacco is through dedicated enforcement. Quebec, as an example, has used increased enforcement and dedicated resources to reduce its contraband tobacco problem by half. Just this week, Ontario announced that it was creating its own provincial enforcement team."
New Brunswick has previously identified in the program review that a crackdown on contraband tobacco will increase revenues by as much as $5 million. It estimates that every 1% interruption in contraband tobacco increases provincial revenues by $1 million. As Quebec has shown, with meaningful enforcement this is an achievable target. Budget measures that would make contraband tobacco more lucrative, including increasing the price of legal product, would work counter to these aims.
"Tackling contraband tobacco is about more than tax revenues. The RCMP estimates that there are about 175 organized crime groups involved in the illegal cigarette trade. They use the cigarette smuggling as a cash cow to finance their other illegal activities, including guns, drugs and human smuggling," said Grant. "The contraband tobacco trade is fueled by 50 illegal cigarette factories, based mostly in Ontario and Quebec, each of which can produce as many as 10,000 cigarettes a minute."
"The government must take action against illegal cigarettes before the trade becomes entrenched," concluded Grant. "Without action, New Brunswick risks learning the hard lessons of Ontario and Quebec, where contraband tobacco became out of control and was much harder to address."
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 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, United Korean Commerce and Industry Association (UKCIA),and National Capital Area Crime Stoppers.
SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
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