MONTREAL, March 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Imperial Tobacco Canada stated today
that Ontario's lawmakers should take a stand against the rampant sales of
illegal tobacco in Ontario rather than adopting politically expedient
legislation such as the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act
when they return to Queen's Park this week.
"The Government of Ontario cannot claim that this legislation has
anything to do with public health when they are ignoring half the market.
Illegal tobacco accounts for close to 50 per cent of tobacco purchases in
Ontario - the most in Canada," said Benjamin Kemball, president and CEO of
Imperial Tobacco Canada. "It is hypocritical that the Government of Ontario
turns around and sues a legal industry that they oversee and license while it
allows an illegal tobacco industry to flourish."
The illegal tobacco trade is robbing Canadians of government revenue,
undermining tobacco control initiatives, exposing children to cheap cigarettes
and allowing organized crime to cash in all the way to the bank.
In 2008, the federal and provincial governments together lost
approximately $2.4 billion in taxes and that number is growing as the sale of
illegal cigarettes grows. The federal government's share was $1.1 billion. In
December, the Ontario Auditor General reported that the estimated tax loss for
Ontario in 2006-2007 was $500 million. Imperial Tobacco Canada believes it
could be much more than that considering the doubling of the illegal market in
Ontario in the past two years.
"This legislation is simply a cash grab. If the government is looking for
money, it would be far better to deal with the illegal market than enter into
years of legal wrangling that will not result in the monetary windfall the
government is hoping for," said Mr. Kemball. "It is time for a government to
take a stand. We expect that the Government of Ontario will include the
illegal manufacturers in any lawsuit it may bring forward."
Governments across Canada collected approximately $7.3 billion in taxes
from the tobacco industry in the fiscal year 2008; the province of Ontario
collected over $1.2 billion.
Imperial Tobacco Canada believes that if Ontario moves forward with a
lawsuit, it will take years to resolve and will cost Ontario taxpayers
millions of dollars. A similar action in British Columbia has cost BC tens of
millions of dollars and it is still not over.
Further information on Imperial Tobacco Canada is available on the
Internet at: www.imperialtobaccocanada.com.
For further information:
For further information: Media Contact: Catherine Doyle, Manager,
Corporate Communications, (514) 932-6161, ext. 211