RCMP seizes over 20 million illegal cigarettes

MONTREAL, Jan. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited (ITCAN) today pointed to two recent seizures of over 20 million illegal cigarettes to remind Members of Parliament that they have not yet addressed Canada's illegal tobacco crisis. 

On January 6, the RCMP reported a seizure of 14 million illegal cigarettes in Hobbema, Alberta, and also announced a seizure of a tractor trailer load of 6.3 million illegal cigarettes in the Cornwall area of Eastern Ontario.

"The Alberta seizure is a welcome first step and it is now time for governments to shut down all illegal cigarette factories operating in Canada," said John Clayton, vice president, Corporate Affairs. "Unfortunately, the Ontario government has yet to announce a strategy to fight contraband and we have only seen empty promises from the Federal government," he added.

ITCAN is particularly frustrated that the Minister of Health has failed to act on her September pledge to make illegal tobacco a priority.  Instead, the Minister decided to impose further regulation on the legal tobacco industry, which already abides by over 200 laws and regulations.

"Recent media reports and comments from some opposition MPs and tobacco control groups have suggested that illegal tobacco is not really a problem and a mere ruse used by tobacco companies.  These seizures should remind everyone that the illegal cigarette trade is a massive problem backed by a sophisticated and wide-spread network of organized crime.  It cannot continue to be ignored," said Mr. Clayton.

In April 2010, the RCMP reported that there are 50 illegal cigarette factories operating in Canada and over 300 smoke shacks on First Nations reserves.  To date, the Federal government has refused to take action to shut them down. 

"Illegal tobacco is not going away. Every time the government turns a blind eye to the illegal trade and instead imposes further regulation on the legal industry, it empowers the criminals behind the illegal trade.  They haven't followed any of the current regulations, why should they start now?" concluded Mr. Clayton.


For further information:

Media Contacts:

Eric Gagnon
Manager, External Affairs
514-932-6161 ext: 2113

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