TORONTO, April 22, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the National Coalition Against
Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) called on the government to take meaningful
action against illicit cigarettes in the upcoming provincial budget.
Over the last two weeks, NCACT representatives were in Hamilton,
Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Mississauga, Ottawa and Toronto to talk to
residents about Ontario's illegal cigarette problem. In all, after
speaking with NCACT, almost 2000 people signed a postcard to Premier
Wynne calling for more government action.
"Ontario has the worst contraband tobacco problem in Canada, an illegal
trade which brings serious social consequences," said Jacqueline
Bradley, NCACT's Executive Director. "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. In fact, a study
by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health indicated that easy
access to illegal cigarettes were one of the reasons for Ontario's
stubbornly high teen smoking rate."
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. Contraband tobacco also bites at the public purse: a
December report from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates that
the federal and provincial governments lose as much as $1.1 billion a
year in tax revenues to Ontario's illegal cigarette trade.
"Members of the public that we spoke with are deeply concerned about the
illegal cigarette problem in Ontario," said Gary Grant, a 39-year
veteran of the Toronto Police Service and NCACT's national
spokesperson. "Almost 2000 people signed postcards to Premier Kathleen
Wynne asking for more government action against this problem. The
premier will be receiving them later today. With the provincial budget
expected to be delivered within weeks, there is a real opportunity for
this government to take meaningful action to fight this scourge."
The NCACT hopes that the Ontario government will use the upcoming budget
to follow through on anti-contraband commitments made in the 2012
provincial budget. There, the government committed to exploring
increased powers to police, tougher penalties, and to look to other
jurisdictions for best practices. Illegal cigarettes are a complicated
cross-jurisdictional problem. It's important that the province also
work with partners in other governments, including the federal,
provincial, American and First Nations.
"Contraband tobacco is a problem that affects all communities in
Ontario," concluded Bradley. "It funds organized crime, provides
cigarettes to kids, and starves the provincial government of funds. It
is imperative that the government use the opportunity of a budget to
take meaningful action."
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
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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