Stores urge action on contraband smokes

The Canadian Convenience Stores Association said 45 per cent of the cigarettes sold in Canada are illegally produced and sold and is calling on government to end the illegal sale of smokes.

The group’s senior vice-president, Michel Gadbois, said the illegal trade is hitting convenience stores hard, with one store closing each day in Ontario alone.

“We have to bear down on government and say that’s enough,” Gadbois told CBC News. “Basically they’re killing us by doing nothing.”

Cigarette shacks line a road on the Mohawk reserve in Kahnawake, Que. south of Montreal.

Cigarette shacks line a road on the Mohawk reserve in Kahnawake, Que. south of Montreal.

To underscore its message, the association hired a research firm to pick up cigarette butts outside public buildings and high schools in Ottawa and Cornwall, Ont.

Contraband smokes at the Supreme Court

The firm found that 22 per cent of the cigarette butts discarded in front of the Supreme Court building, for example, came from illicit sources.

“Here’s the highest court that should apply the rule of law across Canada and the level of cynicism in the population now is, ‘Hey it’s not a big deal, it’s not a big crime,'” said Gadbois.

Outside the Finance Ministry in Ottawa, 32 per cent of the butts were from contraband sources.

At four Cornwall high schools, the rate of contraband butts ranged from 20 to 39 per cent. At six Ottawa high schools the rate was between 21 and 39 per cent.

Hooking teenagers

Contraband cigarettes seized near Cornwall, Ont., last November are shown in this handout photo

Contraband cigarettes seized near Cornwall, Ont., last November are shown in this handout photo

Gadbois said the illicit cigarette trade hires “runners” who are under 18 to deliver cigarettes, and those young people tend to sell to other teenagers.

“They sell to other students because they want to create their own market,” he said.

The RCMP has stated that tobacco trafficking is regarded as a significant source of income for all levels of organized crime, and the profits support other criminal activities.

Police have made some high-profile arrests and seizures of illegal tobacco, but Gadbois called it a drop in the bucket, accounting for less than one per cent of the contraband cigarettes sold.

The association is critical of the high taxes placed on cigarettes, especially with the new HST in Ontario set to hike the price again.

“There is no way this activity is going to stop as long as the government keeps hiking prices and they make the differential between legal and illegal cigarettes so important,” said Gadbois.

The Canadian Convenience Stores Association represents 23,000 retailers across Canada.

source: cbc.ca

Similar Posts:

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!