• May 21, 2024

‘Hypocrisy’ highlighted

 ‘Hypocrisy’ highlighted

Canada’s National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) said on Friday that it was highlighting the hypocrisy evident in Ontario’s Cannabis Legalization Enforcement Summit. The emphasis at the summit was being placed on enforcement measures to prepare for the legalisation of cannabis, it said, while calls for a similar enforcement approach to the province’s booming contraband tobacco trade had not been heeded.

“A co-ordinated, multi-stakeholder approach to enforcement will be an important component of the province’s effort to address cannabis, which makes the need for a similar initiative for Ontario’s well entrenched contraband tobacco market all the clearer,” said Gary Grant, the national spokesperson for the NCACT. “The participation of multiple stakeholder groups and different levels of government in this discussion is something we’ve been advocating for in relation to the country’s illegal cigarette problem, which is by far the worst in Ontario.”

The NCACT said Ontario had the worst contraband tobacco market in Canada, with more than one in three cigarettes sold in the province being illicit, a rate that had barely budged for several years.

‘In Northern Ontario, the contraband rate is more than 60 percent,’ the NCACT said in a press note. ‘Illegal cigarettes are cheap and readily available costing as little as $8 for a baggie of 200 cigarettes, $70 or more less than legal product. They are available directly from smugglers or hundreds of unlicensed retail smoke shacks. The RCMP has identified 175 criminal gangs involved in the contraband trade, which use the revenues to fund guns, drugs and human smuggling.’

“The approach Ontario has taken to addressing the illegal marijuana market – enforcement and acknowledging impact of price – is the same that would be effective against illegal cigarettes,” said Grant. “We hope we can count on the government to give both of these issues the amount of the attention they deserve.”