Toronto Crime Stoppers joins fight against contraband tobacco



    Highlights connection between contraband tobacco and organized crime

    TORONTO, Jan. 30 /CNW/ - Toronto Crime Stoppers became the newest member
of The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) and threw its
weight behind the growing movement against the spread of illegal cigarettes.
Toronto Crime Stoppers became the first group of its kind to join NCACT and
organizers hope it paves the way for others to put their weight behind an
important fight and inform the public about a serious issue in the community.
    "Contraband tobacco is an increasing problem today," said Sean Sportun,
Chairman of Toronto Crime Stoppers. "This criminal activity ranges from
small-time dealers in our community to organized crime organizations involved
in the distribution of this illegal product; which is making tobacco more
accessible for our youth."
    Recent studies have shown that Canada-wide over one-third of all
cigarettes smoked are illegal with no government testing, regulation and no
age-restrictions on their sale. A study by the Canadian Convenience Stores
Association also showed that contraband has taken root in schoolyards at high
schools throughout Ontario. A study where over 22,000 cigarette butts were
collected from 155 schools in those provinces showed that 26% of those in
Ontario and 32% of those in Quebec were contraband.
    Detective Larry Straver, Coordinator of Toronto Crime Stoppers says,
"Partnerships to educate people will ultimately lead to prevention. By simply
reporting the sale of contraband tobacco and sale of cigarettes to minors
today, we can take them out of the hands of our youth tomorrow."
    "Crime Stoppers is focused on helping keep our communities safe and it's
clear that contraband tobacco is becoming a serious threat to neighbourhoods
everywhere," added Sportun. "It's our hope that by partnering with NCACT we
can draw additional attention to this problem and generate tips to assist in
combating the distribution of illegal tobacco."

    About Toronto Crime Stoppers

    Crime Stoppers is a partnership of the public, police and media that
provides the community with a proactive program for people to assist the
police anonymously to solve crimes and, thereby, contribute to an improved
quality of life. A group of concerned citizens volunteers to serve on the
Board of Directors to oversee the program; meeting regularly to manage and
promote the program, raise funds and authorize reward payments. Toronto Crime
Stoppers was established in 1984 and to date there are more than 1,200
programs implemented in communities worldwide, 90 across Canada and 35
programs in Ontario; Toronto remains one of the largest programs in the world.
Results: Information from callers has led to arrests in homicides, armed
robberies, sexual assaults and drug trafficking operations. Results speak for
themselves.

    About NCACT

    The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a new 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 founding
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) and now Toronto Crime Stoppers. More information
about NCACT can be found at www.stopcontraband.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Media inquiries: John Perenack, NCACT, (416)
238-2576, perenack@primestrat.com; Lorne Simon, Toronto Crime Stoppers, (416)
560-6441, lmsimon@rogers.com


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