Imperial Tobacco Survey - Canadian Illegal Tobacco Trade..

October 11, 2008 - Based on a survey of 1,201 Canadians over a 3-day period Imperial Tobacco feels the federal government should make illegal tobacco one of its priorities. [Imperial Tobacco Canada (a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of British American Tobacco(BAT) - BAT is the largest stockholder in Reynolds American with approximately 42% of shares) dominates the Canadian cigarette market with at least 60 percent of sales.]

Illegal cigarette sales are costing the Canadian federal and provincial governments $1.6-billion a year in lost taxes. The provinces of Quebec and Ontario are by far the biggest consumers of illegal cigarettes. Nearly half (48.6%) of the
cigarettes bought in Ontario and 40% of those purchased in Quebec were illegal. Almost half of Canadians (47.9%) believe that youth access to illegal tobacco is a major problem.

As a result of the public opinion it is felt the government must propose practical solutions to counter the illegal tobacco problem. Perhaps, Imperial would like the government to again to reduce taxes on legal tobacco in order to lower the price of cigarettes and thus discourage contraband production and distribution.

It is interesting to note that that Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd and Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc have admitted aiding the illegal tobacco trade.

The Canadian federal government has recently introduced a tobacco stamp to combat contraband.

References: Canadians recognize that illegal tobacco sales are a problem for the country and look to governments for answers, CNW Group, 10/9/2008; Illegal cigarette sales costing the government, tobacco industry
by Nicole Feenstra, National Post, 8/2/2007 and Illegal tobacco trade not a priority in Canada, Tobacco Reporter, 9/10/2008.

Imperial Tobacco Canada is the same company that introduced Du Maurier Snus claiming that it fulfills it commitment to test market a reduced harm product, as compared to cigarettes in Edmonton retail outlets. Les Hagen of the lobby group Action on Smoking and Health noted that Alberta currently accounts for 40 per cent of the smokeless tobacco market in Canada. Hagen dismissed the company's efforts to portray snus as less harmful than cigarettes as "a hollow public relations gesture."