OTTAWA, Nov. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) commended the federal government for introducing measures that will help address Canada's contraband tobacco problem. NCACT joined Minister of Justice Peter MacKay and Minister of Health Rona Ambrose at a press conference to announce that the government will be re-introducing the Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act.
First introduced as S-16 during the last session of parliament, this bill creates new penalties for tobacco smuggling, including mandatory minimums for repeat offenders. The government has also committed to establishing a 50 officer RCMP anti-contraband task force. This legislation and RCMP task force were campaign commitments in 2011.
"We are pleased to see the Federal government reintroduce this anti-contraband legislation, reinforcing its commitment to make contraband tobacco a priority," said Jacqueline Bradley, NCACT's executive director. "Illegal cigarettes make our communities less safe by serving as a cash cow for organized crime. In fact, 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."
Contraband tobacco also 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. The trade in illegal cigarettes also costs governments in Canada an estimated 2.1 billion dollars annually in lost tax revenue.
"With this legislation, the government is taking an important step forward in dealing with illegal cigarettes. But more remains to be done. It's important to remember that this is a problem that crosses political and departmental boundaries," concluded Bradley. "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, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and l'Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec (ADA).
SOURCE: National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
For further information:
(w) 1-866-950-5551, (m) 613-797-7313
(e) [email protected]