Manitoba Government Gets Tough On Smoke Shacks

OTTAWA, June 14, 2012 /CNW/ - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) commends the Manitoba government for taking proactive steps to shut down aboriginal smoke shops operating within the province. The tobacco products sold at these shops are illegal and do not pay provincial taxes. This results in a substantial tax loss for the government.

"In tackling Manitoba's deficit, it's important that the government ensures that it collects the revenues that it is owed," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police service and spokesperson for the NCACT. "Contraband tobacco costs governments across Canada about 2.1 billion dollars annually. That's a lot of money in an era of fiscal discipline."

The budget bill, introduced last week, will allow the government to issue stop-operating order to anyone selling tobacco without a provincial license. This would create a far more efficient process in shutting down any retailer that does not pay provincial taxes and sells illicit tobacco product.

"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."

Since, the Dakota Chundee smoke shack opened near Brandon in 2011, law enforcement officials have raided it a number of times. Each time, it has resumed operation in short order. With these powers, the government will be able to shut down the facility permanently. Such strong action is also essential in preventing more from opening.

"Smoke shops and contraband tobacco constitutes a complicated problem which crosses departmental and jurisdictional boundaries," concluded Grant. "While we are beginning to make progress, it can easily be undone if government does not keep up the pressure. It is important that the government continue to follow through on its commitments."

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

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