One in three cigarettes smoked in Quebec is illegal


    - 22 per cent of cigarettes smoked in Canada are illegal - up from
      16.5 percent in 2006 or a 30 percent increase.
    - 30.5 per cent of cigarettes smoked in Quebec are illegal - up from
      22.2 percent in 2006 or a 37 percent increase.
    - Quebec accounts for 36.6 per cent of illegal smokers and 41.1 per cent
      of illegal cigarettes in Canada.

    MONTREAL, Aug. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Illegal cigarette sales continue to tear
through the Canadian economy. A new study commissioned by the Canadian Tobacco
Manufacturers Council (CTMC) indicates that nationally, 22 per cent of
cigarettes purchased are illegal, up from 16.5 per cent in 2006. In Quebec,
30.5 percent of the cigarettes purchased are illegal, up from 22.2 percent in
    "This is one of the most robust studies on the illegal cigarette issue
and it clearly shows that this problem is not going away," said John Barnett,
president of the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council and Rothmans, Benson
and Hedges Inc. "Last year the study confirmed the scope of the problem. This
year the study clearly demonstrates that the problem is growing and
    The majority (94.9 per cent) of illegal cigarette volume is concentrated
in Quebec and Ontario. Quebec accounts for 41.1 per cent of the total illegal
    "Illegal cigarettes are not regulated as are cigarettes produced by CTMC
member companies. They do not have the same health warnings. There is no
control on whether or not the information on the pack, when there is actually
information given, is the correct information. There is no control on
ingredients," said Benjamin Kemball, president of Imperial Tobacco Canada.
"Often they are sold loose in plastic bags with no information or health
    The CTMC estimates that governments are losing approximately $1.6 billion
per year in tax revenues. The Quebec government alone is losing $264 million.
    "It has become very easy and is getting easier to obtain illegal
cigarettes in Canada," said Mr. Kemball. "Everyone is impacted. The networks
that traffic in illegal cigarettes are not limiting themselves to tobacco.
They are trafficking in drugs, alcohol and firearms. And you can be guaranteed
that these individuals are not asking for proof-of-age when they are selling
    "Retailers, large and small, are hit hard by illicit trade. In addition
to lost customers, the illegal tobacco market costs retailers an average of
$120,000 in lost sales per year," said Michel Poirier, president of
JTI-Macdonald Corp. Small retailers can't compete with cheap, illegal tobacco
and if the current trend continues we will see many family-run stores closing
their doors for good."
    Conducted by GfK Research Dynamics, the study's objectives were to
establish the incidence and relative share of illegal tailor-made cigarettes
in Canada as well as to understand consumer awareness and purchase patterns of
illegal trade. The sample size was 2,057 Canadians distributed across the
country between May and June 2007. The level of confidence around the reported
figures is +/- 2.2 per cent for the national results.
    The study was commissioned and paid for by Canada's three largest tobacco
manufacturers (Imperial Tobacco Canada, Rothmans, Benson and Hedges Inc. and
JTI-Macdonald Corp.). For the purposes of the study, illegal cigarettes were
defined as cigarettes/tobacco manufactured and sold by individuals who are not
paying appropriate government taxes and duty.

For further information:

For further information: Catherine Doyle, Imperial Tobacco Canada, (514)
932-6161 x2113; Karen Bodirsky, Rothmans, Benson and Hedges Inc., (416)
442-3660, Cell: (416) 671-7579; David McCullagh, JTI-Macdonald Corp., (905)

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