OTTAWA, May 31, 2017 /CNW/ - On World No Tobacco Day, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) highlighted that Canada's flourishing trade in illegal cigarettes remains the largest tobacco control challenge.
"Illegal cigarettes are cheap, plentiful, and are entirely unregulated," said Gary Grant, the National Spokesperson for the NCACT and a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service. "Without a concerted effort by all levels of government to combat this illegal activity, Canadians will continue to turn to the contraband market for easily accessible, contraband tobacco."
The sale of contraband cigarettes is a problem across the country, but the epicentre of contraband cigarettes is Ontario, where about 1 in 3 cigarettes are illegal, with the highest incidence in Northern Ontario, where 64% of purchased cigarettes are illegal. These levels have remained high over the last number of years.
"Ontario continues to have the worst contraband tobacco problem in Canada. Ontario has moved very slowly to address the problem, and has seen little change to volumes despite some recent provincial efforts. Ontario must look to what has worked in Quebec for proven solutions," continued Grant. "Bill 59 and the Acces Tabac program increased powers to local law enforcement agencies and provided them with the resources they need to investigate illegal tobacco."
Quebec's combination of increased enforcement tools and dedicated support for local police has seen their contraband tobacco incidence decline by half to about 15%. Meanwhile, the province has indicated that Acces Tabac yielded an additional $180 million in provincial revenues in 2015-2016. That's a lot of money for government, and means even less for organized crime. Additionally, Quebec has realized that a measured and predictable approach to the excise on legal product, is most sensible, because we know that excise shocks is the main reason consumers switch to illicit.
"It's important that Canada take real action on illegal cigarettes, especially as the federal government moves towards introducing plain packaging for tobacco products," said Grant. "Contraband tobacco will increase after the introduction of plain packaging because it will be impossible for retailers, consumers and law-enforcement to distinguish between a legal and illegal pack. It will be easier than ever for the 175 criminal gangs and 50 illegal factories that drive contraband in Canada, to operate. Taking action on contraband before introducing changes will reduce the chance of plain packaging making Canada's problem worse."
"Addressing contraband tobacco hurts organized crime and makes cigarettes harder to get by increasing the effectiveness of tobacco control regulations," concluded Grant. "That's a worthy achievement on any day."
To learn more about the NCACT and the fight against illegal tobacco in Canada, please visit the newly redesigned https://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 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, United Korean Commerce and Industry Association (UKCIA), and National Capital Area Crime Stoppers.
SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
For further information: To arrange interviews with Mr. Grant, please contact: Kalene DeBaeremaeker, NCACT Public Affairs, Telephone: 1-866-950-5551 (office) 613-857-1758 (cell), Email: email@example.com