January 22, 2011 - The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) - a lobby group representing Canada’s tobacco companies, convenience stores and customs officers has given the federal government a failing grade for its efforts to crack down on black-market cigarettes.
The NCACT chose National Non-Smoking Week to unveil its latest report card because the group is concerned about the easy access young people have to black-market cigarettes, he said. “Kids who shouldn’t be smoking at all are having no trouble getting their hands on illegal cigarettes,” he said. “We see evidence that more and more youth are accessing cigarettes this way, and the federal government is simply not doing enough to stop it.”
The NCACT downgraded the government from the D it received in May to an F overall for failing to make progress on countering the trade in contraband tobacco.
“The Harper government’s response to this problem amounts to unfulfilled promises or activities that have more public relations value than real impact,” said Gary Grant, a spokesperson for NCACT. “It’s a government that talks tough on crime, but doesn’t follow through, in this area at least.”
The seizure this month of 45,000 cartons containing 14 million contraband cigarettes in Alberta suggested a problem that was previously confined mostly to Ontario and Quebec was spreading across the country, added Grant.
January 1, 2011 - Canada - warning labels on cigarette packs about to get bigger and more graphic..;
December 14, 2010 - Canada - federal govt will be releasing new warning labels by mid-January..;
December 9, 2010 - Canada - federal govt health minister, "not in bed with big tobacco..";
September 28, 2010 - Canada - Health Canada shelves update of graphic warning messages to concentrate on the problem of contraband tobacco..;
September 26, 2010 - Canada - action must be taken to control the illicit cigarette problem...
Members of the NCACT include the Canadian Convenience Stores Association, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Customs and Immigration Union, Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, which is comprised of the country’s three largest tobacco companies — Imperial Tobacco Canada, Rothmans Benson and Hedges Inc., and JTI-Macdonald Corp.
Mike Patton, spokesman for the minister of public safety, said the illicit manufacturing and sale of illegal cigarettes has a significant impact on the economy, public safety and health. He said the government has established a contraband task force led by the RCMP; the Canada Border Services Agency will establish a detector dog service in Montreal and Vancouver, where the highest amount of contraband activity takes place; and the Canada Revenue Agency will develop an ad campaign to raise awareness among Canadians about the negative impacts of buying contraband cigarettes. “These initiatives build upon our existing efforts to disrupt and reduce contraband tobacco,” he said.
Reference: Canada flunking in contraband battle: Report by Shannon Proudfoot (firstname.lastname@example.org), Postmedia News, 1/19/2011.
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