OTTAWA, May 7, 2013 /CNW/ - To mark today the fifth anniversary of the RCMP's Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) released a report looking at the current state of illegal cigarettes in Canada.
"There is ample reason for Canadians to be concerned about contraband tobacco," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and National Spokesperson for the NCACT. "Its low price and easy availability—a "baggie" of 200 cigarettes can cost less than a movie ticket and contraband dealers don't check for I.D.—make it a prime source for youth smoking. Contraband tobacco is also a cash cow for organized crime. The RCMP estimates that there are about 175 criminal gangs involved in the trade, using the profits to finance their other illegal activities, including guns, drugs and human smuggling."
Much has happened in the five years since the RCMP launched its Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy. The Canadian, Ontario and Quebec governments have all given police new powers to investigate and charge those that traffic in the trade, but the illegal cigarette industry continues to evolve to compensate," "Contraband smuggling is still a major problem in Ontario and Quebec and, increasingly, in Atlantic Canada. There is still much more work to do.
"The NCACT believes that a number of steps are still necessary. While governments have introduced anti-contraband measures, more can still be done. Ontario and Quebec have both studied tougher legislation, it is now important that they act. Other provinces, such as those in Atlantic Canada, would also benefit from proper anti-contraband tobacco legislation," continued Grant. "It is also important that all levels of government— including federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations—meet this challenge. Of note, Ontario has already launched pilot projects with First Nations communities to this end. It is important that governments collaborate with aboriginal communities to find innovative solutions."
In 2008, the RCMP had committed to reviewing the strategy every three years. That review, according to the RCMP's last anti-contraband progress report, was to be completed by the end of 2012. The NCACT and its members are always interested in playing a part in the development of such strategies.
"Contraband tobacco, as was the case in 2008, is a complicated, multi-jurisdictional problem. The criminals that run the trade also constantly adapt their practices to government action. To be effective, government's response must be thorough, nimble, and constant."
A copy of the report is available for download at www.stopcontrabandtobacco.ca.
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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