National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco: New Organization Leading Fight Against Growing Trade in Illegal Cigarettes

Coalition launches www.stopcontraband.ca web portal to educate Canadians on the growing danger to kids and communities

Urges Government to add Coalition to federal government’s anti-contraband task force

TORONTO, May 27 – Amid growing controversy over the rampant trade and access kids are getting to illegal cigarettes, a new organization was unveiled today to help in what is becoming an issue of national importance. The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) is a Canada-wide organization focused on educating people and politicians of the dire threat posed by illegal cigarettes. Recent estimates suggest that in Ontario and Quebec, the provinces where the contraband tobacco problem is at its worst, the rates of contraband have exceeded 40% and continues to rise. Through the www.stopcontraband.ca web portal, NCACT will help to deliver the facts about contraband tobacco to retailers, government officials and Canadians everywhere. Through the web site, people can access current research on the issue of contraband tobacco; read news about the Coalition’s activities and contraband developments in Canada; share their stories about the ill effects of illegal cigarettes; encourage friends to join the Coalition; and write to their federal and provincial elected officials to tell them of their concern about this growing danger.

“We’ve got the wild west of illegal tobacco manufacturing and distribution right under our noses and most Canadians don’t know it’s happening,” said Dave Bryans, President of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) and board member of NCACT. “This national coalition is going to play a crucial role in helping Canadians understand the grave situation that’s developed and why they should be concerned. Many parents don’t know it, but their kids are getting access to contraband right at school. We ask that the federal government invite our coalition to join its anti-contraband task force so we can cooperatively help to stop this problem.”

In 2007, CCSA commissioned a study that looked at the spread of illegal cigarettes at high schools and the results confirmed that teens are smoking contraband tobacco in record numbers. A collection of over 11,000 cigarette butts at 105 high schools in Ontario and Quebec revealed that 24% of cigarettes in Ontario and 35% in Quebec were contraband. While governments and health groups work tirelessly trying to keep kids from smoking and stop them from getting access to tobacco, the trade in contraband cigarettes continues to quietly undermine all those efforts.

“It’s clear that this illegal trade in cigarettes is not only bad for legitimate and law-abiding tobacco retailers, but it’s a problem that’s growing beyond proportions we’ve seen in the past,” said Derek Nighbor, Senior Vice President, National Affairs, Retail Council of Canada. “As a member of NCACT and a leading voice for business in Canada, we look forward to taking the message about contraband tobacco forward and helping play a constructive role in shepherding government to solutions that make sense for retailers and put an end to this dangerous and destructive illegal enterprise.”

“Lost revenue is critical when we’re talking about billions of dollars that could instead be spent on government priorities or returned to taxpayers through lower taxes,” said John Williamson, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “Changes in government policy could stem the flow of illegal cigarettes and we think it needs to happen sooner rather than later.”

About the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)

The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a new Canadian advocacy group formed with the participation of businesses, organizations and individuals concerned about the growing danger of contraband cigarettes. NCACT members share the goals of working together to educate people and urge government to take quick action to stop this growing threat. The founding members of the NCACT include: Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Retail Council of Canada, National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Duty Free Association, Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ), and l’Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec (AMDEQ).

More information about NCACT can be found at www.stopcontraband.ca.

For further information: Media inquiries: John Perenack, perenack@primestrat.com (quickest response), (416) 238-2576; Quebec media inquiries: (514) 993-1729

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