Illegal Cigarette Rates In Ontario as High as 59%
OTTAWA, Sept. 15, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) released results of a study highlighting 31% of cigarettes purchased in Ontario were illegal.
"With about 1 in 3 of all cigarettes purchased in the province being illegal, Ontario has the worst contraband tobacco problem in the country," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and national spokesperson for the NCACT. "This incidence has remained relatively stable now for a number of years, and is a reminder that the provincial and federal governments must take real action to address the problem."
Contraband was highest in Northern and Southern Ontario, where illegal cigarettes represented 59% and 34% of all cigarettes purchased. About 1 in 5 cigarettes in the GTA and Eastern Ontario, including Ottawa, were illegal. The survey of 1500 adult smokers in Ontario was conducted by GFK over a 12 week period ending on July 23rd. Respondents were asked through a continuous online tracking study about their cigarette purchases over the past 7 days.
"We shouldn't accept high contraband tobacco rates as a given, nor should we assume that the problem will go away on its own. Other provinces, such as, Quebec have shown that meaningful anti-contraband tobacco enforcement can have a real impact," continued Grant. "Quebec's Bill 59 and Acces Tabac program, which increased powers to local law enforcement agencies and provided them with the resources they need to investigate illegal tobacco, reduced contraband levels by about 50%. This has left more money in the provincial treasury and less in the pockets of organized crime."
The RCMP estimates that there are about 175 organized crime groups involved in the illegal cigarette trade. They use the profits from cigarette smuggling to finance their other illegal activities, including guns, drugs and human smuggling. The contraband tobacco trade is fueled by 50 illegal cigarette factories, based mostly in Ontario and Quebec, each of which can produce as many as 10,000 cigarettes a minute.
"Given the size of the illegal cigarette market in Ontario, governments should also be cautious about how illegal cigarette manufacturers will benefit from the introduction of the plain packaging regulations currently being considered by the federal government," concluded Grant. "Taking contraband tobacco off our streets makes cigarettes harder to get and hurts organized crime. That's a real win."
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 are: Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec (ADA), Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec (AMDEQ), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ), Customs and Immigration Union, Échec au crime Québec, Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA), National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Retail Council of Canada, Toronto Crime Stoppers, United Korean Commerce and Industry Association (UKCIA), and National Capital Area Crime Stoppers.
SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
For further information: Michael Powell, (p) 1-866-950-5551, (m) 613-797-7313, (e) [email protected]