OTTAWA, June 11, 2018 /CNW/ - Today, the NCACT called on the incoming Ontario government to pritoritize addressing Ontario's booming illegal cigarette trade.
"There are clear opportunities for the new Ontario government to make real progress in addressing contraband tobacco," said Gary Grant, the National Spokesperson for the NCACT and a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service. "By focusing on increased enforcement powers and resources for law enforcement, Ontario can reduce contraband, increase provincial revenues and make existing tobacco control efforts more effective."
Ontario has the worst contraband tobacco problem in Canada. Over one in three cigarettes in the province are illegal, with a significant prevalence in Northern Ontario where over 60% of purchased cigarettes are illegal. The scale of the trade is clear in the frequency and size of tobacco smuggling busts. Just recently, a convoy of trucks carrying more than 14,000 kgs of illegal tobacco worth $1.3 million was apprehended by the Ontario Provincial Police.
"Beyond hindering tobacco control efforts, illicit tobacco also is a cash cow for organized crime," continued Grant. "The RCMP has identified about 175 criminal gangs involved in the trade, fueled by more than 50 illegal factories, each producing as many as 10,000 cigarettes a minute. Despite all the busts we see, smuggling cigarettes remains an easy business for criminal gangs."
During the provincial election, the Progressive Conservative Party committed to "Dedicat[ing] resources to fight organized crime, including the production and smuggling of contraband and illicit drugs, as well as child exploitation and human trafficking." Quebec offers a useful model for the province to follow. It's Acces Tabac program has seen contraband tobacco rates fall by more than half while increasing revenues – the province collected $186.5 million from the program in 2016-17 alone.
"Addressing contraband tobacco hurts organized crime and makes cigarettes harder to get by increasing the effectiveness of tobacco control regulations. That's a worthy achievement," concluded Grant. "We look forward to working with the government to address this challenge."
The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a Canadian advocacy group formed by organizations and associations 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. More information about the Coalition can be found on our website, www.stopcontrabandtobacco.ca.
SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
For further information: Michael Powell, (p) 1-866-950-5551, (e) [email protected]