Tobacco legislation deflects focus on true problem

    Imperial Tobacco Canada calls on Government of Ontario to address crisis
    of illegal tobacco sales

    MONTREAL, May 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Today Imperial Tobacco Canada called on
the Government of Ontario to step up and stamp out the out-of-control illegal
tobacco industry rather than wasting time and taxpayers money on futile
    In a statement before the Ontario Legislature's Standing Committee on
Justice Policy, Donald McCarty, Imperial Tobacco Canada's Vice-President of
Law, said, "I can no longer come before a committee such as this and say that
Imperial Tobacco Canada is Canada's leading tobacco company, at least not in
Ontario. In Ontario the leading supplier of tobacco products are the illegal
manufacturers who sell half of the tobacco purchased in the province."
    The Standing Committee on Justice Policy is hearing presentations on Bill
155 (Tobacco Damages and Heath Care Costs Recovery Act). If it passes the bill
would allow the government to stack the deck in a lawsuit it would be allowed
to bring against tobacco manufacturers for healthcare costs allegedly
associated with tobacco usage.
    "This legislation will result in a victory for the illegal tobacco
industry. The vast majority of cases of this kind in the United States have
ended in verdicts for the tobacco industry," continued Mr. McCarty. "If
Ontario should fail in suing the tobacco manufacturers, taxpayers will have to
foot the bill for years of legal wrangling with zero payout. If Ontario wins,
the loss is greater. There will be no pot of money, the industry will be
bankrupt and the illegal manufacturers, with their sophisticated manufacturing
capacity and distribution networks, will take over 100 percent of the market
within a matter of days, leaving Ontario with no tobacco tax revenues and
useless tobacco control policies."
    Ontarians need to understand that the province has the highest percentage
of illegal tobacco sales in Canada. In 2008, almost 50 per cent of cigarettes
purchased in Ontario were illegal. The Ontario Auditor General reported late
last year that in 2006-2007 the province missed out on $500 million in taxes
specifically from illegal tobacco sales - no small sum in today's economic
environment. Imperial Tobacco Canada believes it could be as much as $1
billion today.

    Further information on Imperial Tobacco Canada is available on the
Internet at:

For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Eric Gagnon, (514) 932-6161
ext. 2113

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