WINNIPEG, Feb. 9, 2012 /CNW/ - Today, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) commended the RCMP and members of the provincial government's taxation investigations unit for the execution of the raid that took place yesterday in Rosser. The fact that several loaded handguns were found alongside the nearly 1.5 million contraband cigarettes illustrates the seriousness of the link between illegal cigarettes and violent crime.
"We are glad that the RCMP demonstrated a willingness to take strong action on this, and the sheer number of contraband cigarettes seized is appalling," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police service and spokesperson for the NCACT. "The number of guns found during the raid should serve as a wake-up call to everyone on the serious links between illegal cigarettes and organized crime."
There is a strong connection between organized crime and the manufacturing and sale of contraband cigarettes. Tobacco sold illegally is the cash cow of organized crime and finances the activities - including drugs, guns, and human trafficking - of more than 175 organized criminal gangs, according to the RCMP. In Canada, there are more than 50 illegal cigarette manufacturing facilities and more than 300 smoke shacks operating outside of any government regulation.
"It's bad enough that criminals are allowed to profit by way of this illegal distribution system," continued Grant. "But illegal cigarettes work directly against larger tobacco control efforts. They are a key source of youth smoking, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has found that contraband tobacco's easy availability is one of the reasons why youth smoking rates have remained relatively high."
"The NCACT believes that it is critical for government to take action against contraband cigarettes, and it is equally important for government to similarly target illegal cigarette manufacturing facilities and smoke shacks operating in the province," continued Grant. "Without continued meaningful action, this problem will only get worse."
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).
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