Record seizure of illegal tobacco in Alberta highlights nationwide problem of contraband cigarettes

TORONTO, Jan. 13 /CNW/ - The recent seizure of 75,000 cartons or over 14 million cigarettes in Alberta demonstrates the illegal trade in tobacco is creeping country-wide.  The seizure, which was reported on January 6, is the largest ever in the Province of Alberta and highlights the national environment that's been created in Canada where tobacco smuggling is both lucrative and common.

Despite announcements in 2008 and 2010 that substantive action would be taken by the federal government to tackle this problem, little has been done.

"The lack of government action, despite the continual spread of contraband tobacco, has allowed this illegal trade, and the criminal organization who profit from it, to thrive." said Gary Grant, spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) and 39 year veteran and retired Staff Superintendent of the Toronto Police Service.  "This is a very serious law and order issue facing this country today.  The illegal trade in cigarettes is a lucrative business that organized crime groups are using to fund other, more serious activities.  The RCMP says that 175 organized crime groups are involved and many are exploiting a major hole in border security to bring illegal cigarettes into Canada from the US, along with weapons and drugs. "

The government has given police more resources, but other promised measures have either not materialized or, as in the case of more sniffer dogs at ports, been irrelevant to dealing with this problem. 

"While the RCMP and other police forces like those in and around Cornwall, Ontario are doing a fantastic job, the problem facing law enforcement across the country is enormous and seizures made represent only a fraction of the illegal smuggling activity in Canada," added Grant. "This is not a problem that can be solved by one Minister or single Department.  It is a complex issue and a problem that demands a coordinated response across government.   To date, leadership on this file has been badly lacking"

In May 2010, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco issued a report card on the track record of the federal government on the issue of illegal tobacco.  It gave the government a 'D' rating.  The NCACT plans to issue an update on the progress made by the federal government later this month.

About NCACT - 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 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, and The Customs & Immigration Union (CIU).

SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco

For further information:

Media inquiries:

John Perenack, perenack@primestrat.com, 416-238-2576 

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National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco

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