OTTAWA, Sept. 2, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - As school resumes, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) wants to remind parents about how dangerously accessible contraband tobacco is for young people.
"It's frightening how readily accessible illegal cigarettes are to our kids, with some dealers selling it directly to youth right next to the schools where they go to learn. That shouldn't be acceptable," explained NCACT Executive Director Jacqueline Bradley. "Contraband tobacco is cheap, readily accessible, and the criminals that sell it don't bother checking for I.D. That's a dangerous combination, which sees illegal cigarettes handed out by contraband dealers like candy."
Contraband tobacco is a prime source for youth smoking. It is usually sold in resealable plastic bags and is often distributed through a criminal distribution network- effectively, a drug dealer system. A "baggie" of 200 can cost as little as $8; well less than the price of a movie ticket. This low cost and easy availability makes contraband tobacco a prime source for youth smoking. In fact, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has flagged the availability of illegal cigarettes as a reason for Ontario's stubbornly high youth smoking rate.
"Illegal cigarettes undermine the tobacco control regulations that government has put in place to protect our children. The bottom line is that the criminals that are selling contraband tobacco don't bother to check I.D.," continued Bradley. "What's worse, contraband tobacco is also a cash cow for organized crime. The RCMP estimates that there are about 175 criminal organizations involved in the trade, using it to finance their other illegal activities, including drugs, guns, and human trafficking. Meanwhile, illegal cigarettes cost governments in Canada 2.1 billion dollars annually in lost tax revenue each year."
In the last three provincial budgets, the Province of Ontario has committed to a number of new anti-contraband measures, including more powers for local police. To date, they have yet to be introduced. The NCACT hopes that Ontario will follow the lead of Quebec, which introduced expanded anti-contraband powers for local police in 2009.
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 and United Korean Commerce and Industry Association (UKCIA).
SOURCE: National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
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