Upcoming Budget Gives Opportunity for Change
MONTREAL, Nov. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - With the upcoming Quebec Budget set to be unveiled in a matter of days, Gary Grant, the National Spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT), called upon the government to keep pressure on the sale of illegal cigarettes.
"It is important that the government be reminded that the availability of contraband tobacco in still a major problem in communities across the province," explained Gary Grant, National Spokesperson for the NCACT and 39 year veteran of the Toronto Police Force. "Quebec continues to be impacted by organized crime, an activity often funded by the sale of illegal cigarettes."
There is a strong connection between organized crime and the manufacturing and sale of contraband cigarettes. Tobacco sold illegally is the cash cow of organized crime and finances the activities - including drugs, guns, and human trafficking - of more than 175 organized criminal gangs, according to the RCMP. In Canada, there are more than 50 illegal cigarette manufacturing facilities and more than 300 smoke shacks operating outside of any government regulation.
In early October, a joint RCMP and Sûreté du Québec task force busted a vast network of tobacco contraband in the Valleyfield region. While seizing some 79 boxes of illegal cigarettes, police also seized over $150,000, several weapons and vehicles. This is just one amongst many busts which occur regularly in Quebec.
"It's bad enough that criminals are allowed to profit by way of this illegal distribution system," continued Grant. "But illegal cigarettes work directly against larger tobacco control efforts. They are a key source of youth smoking, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has found that contraband tobacco's easy availability is one of the reasons why youth smoking rates have remained relatively high."
Quebec has been a leader in the fight against contraband in the past, and it is important that the new government continue the positive steps forward that have already been made.
"In preparation for the Quebec budget which will be presented next Tuesday, I invite the government to act with caution in tobacco-related tax measures," concluded Mr. Grant. "Any increase in tobacco taxation could result in fueling the illegal cigarettes trade in Quebec."
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: