Governments Must Inspect Manitoba Smoke Shack

Brandon-area store must abide by all rules and regulations

OTTAWA, Nov. 10, 2011 /CNW/ - Wednesday's well-publicized opening of a smoke shack near Brandon should be inspected immediately to ensure that it is complying with all federal and provincial tobacco regulations, says the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT). The smoke shack, announced several weeks ago, is located off-reserve about 100 km from Brandon. It will sell cigarettes for less than half the price per carton than legal product in Manitoba.

"Smoke shacks like this make a mockery of government tobacco control regulations," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police service and spokesperson for the NCACT. "We need to make sure that these facilities are inspected to check that they are complying with all laws and regulations, including those for display, labeling, and the collection of government taxes. When they don't, they should be shut down."

While this may be the first smoke shack to operate in Manitoba, letting this facility operate outside of government regulation can set a dangerous precedent for others. Ontario and Quebec's experience demonstrates that smoke shacks can quickly multiply.  The absence of government regulatory enforcement has fostered more than 300 smoke shacks across Canada, mostly in these two provinces.

"Smoke shacks make a mockery of tobacco control efforts and give youth unrestricted access to cigarettes. Contraband tobacco also helps to finance organized crime," said Grant. "Indeed, by the RCMP's estimates, there are more than 175 illegal gangs that use contraband tobacco to finance their other illegal activities, including guns, drugs, and human smuggling."

"The Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, will be visiting Brandon today," concluded Grant. "The federal government has previously made strong commitments to crack down on illegal tobacco. As the problem spreads to his home province, we hope that he uses this opportunity to take a firm stance on the need for this and other facilities to be inspected to make sure that they are abiding by laws that were put in place to protect Canadians."

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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