OTTAWA, March 5, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco commended the government for introducing measures that will help address Canada's contraband tobacco problem. Ministers Vic Toews and Leona Aglukkaq announced that the government will be establishing a 50 officer RCMP anti-contraband task force and introducing new penalties for tobacco smuggling, including mandatory minimums for repeat offenders. The government had committed to these actions during the 2011 federal election.
"We are pleased to see the Federal government following through on its campaign commitment to make contraband tobacco a priority, as Illegal cigarettes negatively impact communities across the country," said Gary Grant, NCACT spokesperson and 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service. "Today's announcement is a clear indication that contraband is still a problem today and the government understands this."
Contraband tobacco has serious negative social consequences. Illegal cigarette's low cost - a "baggie" of 200 cigarettes often costs less than a movie ticket - combined with the fact that contraband dealers don't check ID make illegal cigarettes a prime source for youth smoking. Contraband tobacco is also a cash cow for organized crime. The RCMP estimates that about 175 criminal gangs use the profits from the trade to finance their other activities, including guns, drugs, and human smuggling. The trade in illegal cigarettes also costs governments in Canada an estimated 2.1 billion dollars annually in lost tax revenue.
"This announcement indicates that the government is giving this issue the attention it deserves, but it's important to remember that this is a problem that crosses political and departmental boundaries." continued Grant. "Moving forward, it will be essential for the federal government to coordinate its efforts with other governments. The criminals involved in the contraband trade are unhindered by borders, so it's important that government response not be hamstrung by them."
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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