Nova Scotia Menthol Ban will Fuel Contraband Tobacco

30 million more illegal cigarettes to be sold in the province each year

OTTAWA, April 20, 2015 /CNW/ - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) is deeply alarmed with the government of Nova Scotia's proposed ban on menthol tobacco will contribute to the province's growing illegal tobacco problem. The ban, proposed on April 17th, could come into effect as early as May 31st.

"The discussion here is not about menthol, it's about the implementation of additional measures that will fuel contraband and crime. With this proposed law, Nova Scotia will be directly handing an additional 30 million cigarettes each year to the illegal market," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and national spokesperson for the NCACT.

"May 31st is World No Tobacco Day, which this year is focused on the global challenge of contraband tobacco," continued Grant. "The unfortunate irony is that, unless the ban on menthol cigarettes is postponed, this year Nova Scotia will be marking the day by adding millions more cigarettes to the illegal market."

"There are already twice as many illegal menthol products available in the market as legal ones, meaning that the primary effect of this law will be to increase the illegal tobacco market in Nova Scotia. Alarmingly, the criminals that run the trade are ready to take advantage of this," said Grant.

Contraband tobacco is a cash cow for organized crime. The RCMP estimates that there are 175 criminal gangs profiting from the sale of illicit tobacco, with 50 illegal factories operating in Canada, each able to as many as 10,000 cigarettes a minute. These organized crime groups use the proceeds from contraband tobacco sales to fund their other activities, including guns, drugs and human smuggling. And the proceeds are lucrative: the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada identified $100 million in suspicious financial transactions between 2006 and 2012 from one contraband hotspot alone.

"Before considering any dramatic changes to the regulated tobacco market in Nova Scotia, the province should first introduce tough, effective anti-contraband tobacco measures," concluded Grant. "For example, Quebec has successfully given more powers to local police, as well as the financial resources to enforce them, that have reduced contraband tobacco by half. NCACT has long-called for Nova Scotia to take such an approach, including after the provincial budget on April 9th."

A similar prohibition proposed in Ontario has at least a 2-year phase in to account for contraband tobacco implications. NCACT has suggested that this ban be postponed until such a time as effective anti-contraband tobacco measures have been introduced and had time to take effect. Nova Scotia should take a similar approach.

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.

The members of the NCACT are: Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec (ADA), Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec (AMDEQ), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ), Customs and Immigration Union, Échec au crime Québec, Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA), National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Retail Council of Canada, Toronto Crime Stoppers and United Korean Commerce and Industry Association (UKCIA).

SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)

For further information: Michael Powell, (p) (866) 950-5551, (m) (613) 797-7313, (e)

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