Manitoba Right to Take Quick Action Against Smoke Shack

Seizure of contraband tobacco from Brandon-area store helps
stop problem from spreading

OTTAWA, Nov. 16, 2011 /CNW/ - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) applauds the government of Manitoba for taking quick action against a recently-opened smoke shack near Brandon. Last evening, a Manitoba Finance special investigation unit seized almost 90,000 contraband cigarettes from the store, which opened last week.

"It is good news that the province acted quickly to seize contraband from this smoke shack," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police service and spokesperson for the NCACT. "The experience in other jurisdictions, particularly Ontario and Quebec, has seen government inaction lead to an expansion of the smoke shack network and a growth in the influence of organized crime."

There are currently more than 300 smoke shacks operating in Ontario and Quebec, which usually pay little regard to federal and provincial regulations, including for packaging, display, and ID requirements. The RCMP has found that contraband tobacco, like that sold at smoke shacks, finances the illegal activities of more than 175 criminal gangs, including guns, drugs, and human smuggling.

"Inspecting smoke shacks is only one step in fighting contraband tobacco," continued Grant. "Governments must starve the demand for illegal cigarettes by targeting the supply. This means dealing with the 50 illegal manufacturing facilities that operate within Canada; increasing penalties for and enforcement of smuggling; introducing licensing requirements for non-tobacco cigarette manufacturing materials; and improving coordination between different governments and police forces."

"We are always asking that government take strong action against contraband tobacco," concluded Grant. "Quick action towards this smoke shack is just that. It is important that, in the weeks ahead, the government of Manitoba continue to be vigilant in ensuring contraband does not reappear at the store. We also hope that other jurisdictions will follow their lead."

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

For further information:

Michael Powell
(p) 1-866-950-5551
(m) 613-797-7313

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National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco

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