Illegal trade huge

| January 24, 2017

Ontario Canada photoThe National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) yesterday released through PRNewswire the results of a survey highlighting that 32 percent of the cigarettes bought in Ontario, Canada, are illicit.

“Ontario has the worst contraband tobacco problem in Canada – about one in three of all cigarettes purchased in the province are illegal,” said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and national spokesperson for the NCACT.

“This rate has remained constant for a number of years, and, as we approach budget season, is a reminder that the provincial and federal governments must take real action to address the problem.”

The survey found that contraband was highest in Northern and Ottawa/Eastern Ontario, where illicit cigarettes represented 51 percent and 36 percent of all cigarettes purchased.

About one in four cigarettes bought in the Greater Toronto Area and 29 percent of those bought in Southern Ontario were said to be illicit.

The survey of 1,500 adult smokers in Ontario was conducted by GFK over a 12-week period ending on December 10. Respondents were asked through a continuous online tracking study about their cigarette purchases over the past seven days.

“There is no reason to accept high contraband tobacco rates as a given,” said Grant.

“Clearly, this is a problem that will not go away on its own.

“It is also clear that meaningful anti-contraband tobacco measures can reduce illegal cigarette incidence. Quebec is a good example of this. “Quebec’s Bill 59 and Acces Tabac program, which increased powers to local law enforcement agencies and provided them with the resources they need to investigate illegal tobacco, reduced contraband levels by about 50 percent. This means more money in the provincial treasury and less in the pockets of organized crime.”

The PR Newswire report said the RCMP estimated that there were about 175 organized crime groups involved in the illegal cigarette trade.

‘They use the profits from cigarette smuggling to finance their other illegal activities, including guns, drugs and human smuggling,’ the report said.

‘The contraband tobacco trade is fueled by 50 illegal cigarette factories, based mostly in Ontario and Quebec, each of which can produce as many as 10,000 cigarettes a minute.’

“The ongoing strength of the contraband market in Ontario is a reminder that governments should be cautious about how illegal cigarette manufacturers will benefit from the introduction of the plain packaging regulations currently being considered by the federal government,” said Grant.

“Any such changes to the legal market should be preceded by effective anti-contraband tobacco measures, including increased enforcement and regulation of cigarette manufacturing materials like acetate tow. Taking contraband tobacco off our streets makes cigarettes harder to get and hurts organized crime.”

Category: Breaking News

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