Coalition Calls for Government Action on Illegal Cigarettes

NCACT visits hill to raise the profile of contraband's affect on communities

OTTAWA, Sept. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Today, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco was on Parliament Hill to meet with decision makers and call for more action from government against illegal cigarettes.

"MPs have returned from a summer in their communities, and we want to remind them just how much of an impact illegal cigarettes have." said NCACT spokesperson Gary Grant. "Indeed, over the past year, the NCACT has visited many of the communities hardest hit by illegal cigarettes. In Ontario, from Cornwall to Windsor, we've visited cities and towns along what we call the "contraband trail", meeting with business owners, local political leaders, and the media. Throughout, the message has been clear: there is a need for meaningful government action."

There are a number of reasons that the public and decision makers should be concerned about illegal cigarettes, including easy availability to youth, funding organized crime, and lost revenue for government. Its low cost- a "baggie" of 200 cigarettes often costing less than a movie ticket - combined with the fact that contraband dealers don't check ID make illegal cigarettes a prime source for youth smoking. The RCMP estimates that more than 175 criminal gangs use the profits from the trade to finance their other activities, including guns, drugs, and human smuggling. The federal and provincial governments also lose an estimated 2.1 billion dollars annually because of illegal cigarettes.

"I'm a father and a non-smoker, so I'm concerned by the ease to which youth have access to contraband tobacco," said Grant. "I'm also a 39-year veteran of the Toronto police service, so I'm concerned about anything that serves as such a cash cow for some of Canada's least desirable elements. I'm also a taxpayer, so I'm concerned about governments missing that much revenue, especially in an era of fiscal restraint."

The NCACT will be calling on the federal government to follow-through on commitments to introduce mandatory-minimum sentences for repeat contraband offenders and to create a 50-person RCMP taskforce dedicated to the trade. The coalition will also be calling for the border crossing in Cornwall, On to remain in its current location and encouraging the federal and provincial governments to better coordinate their anti-contraband tobacco strategies.

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, The Customs & Immigration Union (CIU), the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

SOURCE: National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco

For further information:

Michael Powell
(w) 613-566-5961
(m) 613-797-7313

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National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco

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