LONDON, ON, Jan. 26, 2012 /CNW/ - Tuesday's seizure of 75,000 contraband cigarettes by London RCMP reinforces the extent of the illegal tobacco problem in the London Area. In the fall of 2011, the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) launched an advertising campaign in the city to help raise public awareness of this problem.
"Seizures of illegal tobacco, such as Tuesday's, are an all-too-regular occurrence, which is why we launched our awareness campaign last fall," said Gary Grant, NCACT spokesperson and 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service. "While these busts speak to the hard work that the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies are doing to stop smugglers, it is an equally startling reminder of the scope of the problem. In fact, the NCACT commissioned a study that found that 25% of cigarette butts at a number of London locations were contraband."
Illegal tobacco seizures only hint at the extent of the much larger problem. Despite their diligence, the RCMP estimates that they only stop 5 to 6 percent of contraband tobacco in Canada. Busts like this can only hinder smugglers temporarily, as the size and scope of their operations are large enough to keep going.
"It's important to remember that the trade in illegal cigarettes is the domain of organized crime," continued Grant. "The RCMP estimates that there are more than 175 criminal organizations using the sale of contraband tobacco to finance their activities, including guns, drugs, and human trafficking. Effectively, illegal cigarettes are the cash cow for some of Canada's least desirable elements."
Contraband tobacco's negative social effects extend beyond its connection to crime. The low price and easy accessibility of Illegal cigarettes make it a prime source for youth smoking. In fact, a recent study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that contraband tobacco's availability was a contributor to Ontario's relatively high youth smoking rates. Indeed, NCACT's study in London found that 35% of cigarette butts near London high schools were contraband.
"Tobacco smuggling comes at a tremendous social and economic cost, and the tools we have to stop it are insufficient," concluded Grant. "It is time for meaningful action to address this serious problem."
Gary Grant is available will be available for media interviews January 26th and 27th.
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, The Customs & Immigration Union (CIU), the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.
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