OTTAWA, June 4, 2014 /CNW/ - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) is urging all parties to commit to strong measures to combat Ontario's contraband tobacco problem. As all parties work to balance the budget, addressing illegal cigarettes offers a "low-hanging" fruit for government to recover tax dollars.
"There is more contraband tobacco in Ontario than any other province. That's not a record we should be proud of. Illegal cigarettes are readily available throughout the province, be it through one of hundreds of illegal smoke shacks or directly from criminal contraband dealers. A "baggie" of 200 illegal cigarettes can cost as little as $8, more than $70 less than legal product." said Gary Grant; a 39 year retired Toronto police officer and National Spokesperson for the NCACT. "But over the last three years we have not seen any meaningful action to address this problem from Queen's Park."
Contraband tobacco harms our communities by funding organized crime. In fact, the RCMP estimates that there are about 175 criminal gangs in the contraband trade, using it as a cash cow to finance their other illegal activities, including guns, drugs and human smuggling. Contraband tobacco is also a prime source for youth smoking. Illegal cigarettes are cheap, easily accessible, and the criminals who sell them don't check for ID.
"That illegal cigarettes fund organized crime and facilitate youth smoking are reason enough for government to take action. But by tackling contraband tobacco, Ontario can potentially recoup millions in lost tax revenues," continued Grant. "The Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates that the illegal cigarette trade in Ontario costs governments more than a billion dollars in lost revenues each year. That's money that could be going to paying down the deficit, but instead lines the pockets of criminals."
The NCACT sent a short questionnaire to all three party leaders to ask how they will address contraband tobacco if elected. The NCACT only received a response from the Liberal Party, which reiterated commitments made in the budget which have up to now gone unfulfilled. An attached fact sheet highlights commitments and actions from the province over the course of the last legislature.
"Contraband tobacco is a major issue that affect all Ontarians" concluded Grant. "It funds organized crime. It puts our children at risk. It costs our government hundreds of millions of dollars. It is important that we see action."
The NCACT will be hosting a media teleconference today at 10:00am EST. To participate in the media teleconference, please dial:
Participant Local Dial in Number: 416-764-8688 / 613-627-2403
Participant Toll Free Dial in Number: 888-390-0546
Conference ID: 60112478
The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a Canadian advocacy group formed by organizations and associations 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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