Canada - Imperial Tobacco Head - Illegal Cigarettes..

June 21, 2009 - On June 18th Benjamin Kemball, president and CEO of Imperial Tobacco Canada gave another of his presentations on the subject illicit (illegal, contraband) tobacco sales. He believes that Canada has lost its leadership in tobacco control because provincial and federal governments have ignored the growing crisis of illegal tobacco sales, according to Imperial Tobacco Canada.

In a speech delivered today at the Economic Club of Canada Kemball stated over one third of the Canadian tobacco industry has been handed over to an illegal, unregulated, un-enforced and un-taxed free for all and tobacco control is collapsing around us.

Imperial Tobacco Canada believes that something should and can be done now. "Let's get someone in charge - a senior government official would be a good start. Let's get the laws enforced. Let's control the supply of raw material and machinery. Let's get taxes applied, including perhaps a revenue sharing agreement on a First Nations tax, equivalent to the Provincial Tobacco Tax," said Mr. Kemball. "This would facilitate tobacco control across Canada, including the reserves that could benefit from the proceeds of this tax. Let's bring everyone involved to the table, from the health authorities to the First Nation communities."

"The irony is that the tobacco industry is not alone in this call. Community groups, retailers, business groups, health groups are also calling for government action," added Mr. Kemball. "It is not everyday that you get tobacco companies and health groups asking for the same thing. When you do, isn't it time to listen?"

Illegal tobacco represents over 30 percent of cigarettes purchased in Canada. This number reaches 40 percent in Quebec and 48 percent in Ontario. In 2008, the federal and provincial governments together lost approximately $2.4 billion in taxes. In December, the Ontario Auditor General reported that the estimated tax loss for Ontario in 2006-2007 was $500 million; and we believe it could be double that today. The Government of Quebec lost approximately $300 million in 2008.

Again, we wonder if Imperial is diverting attention away from possible increases tobacco taxes or suits brought against tobacco companies.

Reference: Imperial Tobacco Canada to governments: Do your job and stop illegal tobacco sales, Benjamin J. Kemball, President and Chief Executive Officer of Imperial Tobacco Canada, 6/18/2009.

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