Watchdog group gives Harper government failing grades on response to
contraband cigarettes

National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) issues first report card on government progress

OTTAWA, May 26 /CNW/ - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) issued its first report card on the progress the Harper government has made on battling the spread of contraband tobacco. NCACT members including the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Customs and Immigration Union and the Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ) released the findings at a news conference today in Ottawa. Electronic copies of the report can be obtained at www.stopcontrabandtobacco.ca.

http://www.stopcontrabandtobacco.ca/en/Portals/0/media/NCACT_Report_Card_May_2010.pdf

The report gave the government a number of failing grades and an overall grade of 'D' for its lack of meaningful action on containing the enormous Canadian black market in illegal cigarettes. The rating was compiled from measuring the government's response across six important categories:

    
    -------------------------------------------------
    Category                          Grade
    -------------------------------------------------
    Public education                  F
    -------------------------------------------------
    Keeping cigarettes from kids      A - Legal
                                      F - Contraband
    -------------------------------------------------
    Resources for law enforcement     D
    -------------------------------------------------
    Border security (smuggling)       C
    -------------------------------------------------
    Fiscal responsibility             F
    -------------------------------------------------
    Penalties and sentencing          C
    -------------------------------------------------
    Overall Grade                     D
    -------------------------------------------------
    

"Our members are very disappointed at the government's apparent lack of commitment to snuffing out the trade in illegal cigarettes. This is a serious criminal problem, with organized crime groups reaping huge profits that are being used to fund other criminal enterprises such as drug and weapons trafficking," said Gary Grant, spokesperson for the NCACT and 39 year veteran and retired Staff Superintendent of the Toronto Police Service. "Equally alarming is that kids, who shouldn't be smoking at all, are having no trouble getting their hands on illegal cigarettes. They're increasingly the target of the criminal thugs at the end of the contraband tobacco distribution chain and the federal government is simply not doing enough to stop this problem."

Major areas cited in the report where the Harper government has failed to act include:

    
    -   Failing to demonstrate a commitment to prevent kids from getting
        access to contraband cigarettes;
    -   Allowing $2.4 billion in tobacco tax dollars to be lost while 175
        organized crime groups profit at the government's expense;
    -   Failing to provide police adequate resources to combat the massive
        amount of smuggling occurring across the Canada/US border;
    -   Failing to take action to close any of the more than 50 known illegal
        cigarette factories operating in Ontario and Quebec;
    -   Putting additional strain on already stretched law enforcement
        agencies and needlessly increasing costs by not utilizing the
        training and expertise of Canada's Border Services Officers in
        interdicting smugglers;
    -   Failing to deliver on a promised public education campaign to show
        people the criminal networks behind contraband tobacco; and,
    -   Failing to provide adequate criminal penalties to deter smugglers.
    

About NCACT

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 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 (NCACT)

For further information: For further information: Media inquiries: John Perenack, perenack@primestrat.com, (416) 238-2576


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