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Contraband Tobacco in Canada: An Assessment on the 5th Anniversary of the RCMPs Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy

Contraband Tobacco in Canada: An Assessment on the 5th Anniversary of the RCMPs Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy

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Published by An Michael Powell
On the occasion of the 5th Anniversary of the RCMP's contraband tobacco enforcement strategy, the NCACT prepared an assessment on the state of illegal cigarettes in Canada.
On the occasion of the 5th Anniversary of the RCMP's contraband tobacco enforcement strategy, the NCACT prepared an assessment on the state of illegal cigarettes in Canada.

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Published by: An Michael Powell on May 07, 2013
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04/13/2014

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Contraband Tobacco in Canada
 An Assessment on the Fifth Anniversary of the RCMP
’ 
sContraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy 
The National Coalition Against Contraband TobaccoOttawa, ONMay 7
th
, 2013
 
 
Introduction
 
May 7
th
 
marks the fifth anniversary of the RCMP’s
Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy, adocument that set out the RCMP and government
s plans for addressing the serious problem of illegalcigarettes in Canada.Now, half a decade later, it is important to look at what has changed in the illegal cigarette market.What success has government action achieved? How far along have we come? What remains to bedone?This report will look at the state of contraband tobacco in Canada today. As was the case in 2008, manyquestions remain difficult to answer, such as the exact size and scope of the contraband tobaccoproblem. While exact figures may be difficult to determine, it is very clear that illegal cigarettes are stillall-too prevalent in communities across Canada and that illegal cigarette dealers are looking to expandinto new markets. Government action, including new police powers at both the federal and provinciallevels, has had some effect, but the market continues to evolve and more steps are necessary.
About the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco
 
The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) is a Canadian advocacy group formed in2008 with the participation of businesses, organizations and individuals concerned about the growingdanger of contraband cigarettes. The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco
’s fifteen
membersshare the goals of working together to educate people and urge government to take quick action to stopthis growing threat.The NCACT works to raise awareness amongst government and the public about contraband tobacco, aswell as to encourage meaningful action on this important problem. More information about thecoalition can be found on our website, www.stopcontrabandtobacco.ca. 
 
 
About Contraband Tobacco
 
Contraband tobacco is any tobacco that does not comply with all federal and provincial laws, includingthose governing importation, stamping, marking, manufacturing, and taxes and duties. This includescigarettes and other tobacco products that are sold without having paid both provincial and federalexcise taxes. It also includes
products that do not meet Canada’s strict packaging and display
regulations. Contraband tobacco is often sold through criminal distribution networks in transparentplastic bags of 200 cigarettes, with
a “baggie” often costing less than a movie ticket.
Contraband t
obacco’s low price and easy availability make it a prime source for youth smoking.
In fact,the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has indicated that easy access to contraband tobacco is one
of the reasons for Ontario’s stubbornly high teen smoking rates. Illegal cigarettes
also undercut
Canada’s
tobacco control efforts more generally, undermining regulations put in place by governments across thecountry. This has a real effect: a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found thatthose that smoked illegal cigarettes were heavier smokers and had a harder time quitting.
1
 Contraband tobacco is also big business for organized crime. The RCMP estimates that there are about175 criminal gangs involved in the illegal cigarette trade. They use this lucrative industry as a cash cowfor their other activities, including guns, drugs and human smuggling.Illegal cigarettes bring more than just a social cost. They represent a direct revenue loss to governmentthrough uncollected tax revenues. The investigative news program W5 reported that contrabandtobacco could cost governments in Canada as much as $2.1 billion a year in lost taxes. Similarly, theCanadian Taxpayers Federation found that contraband tobacco in Ontario alone could represent acombined federal and provincial revenue loss of as much as $1.1 billion annually.
2
 
1
Mecredy, C.; Diemert, L.; Callaghan, R.; and Cohen, J
Association between use of contraband tobacco andsmoking cessation outcomes: a population-based cohort study
CMAJ April 16, 2013 vol. 185 no. 7
2
 
How Much is Contraband Tobacco Costing Taxpayers in Ontario?
” Canadian Taxpayers Federation, 2012
 

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