Illegal cigarettes? Blame government…
An ongoing advertising campaign to stop people from buying illegal cigarettes puts all of the blame on the buyer and none on the one entity that could actually do something about it – the government.
The Crime Stoppers Toronto radio ad says, “You may think that buying contraband tobacco doesn’t really hurt anyone. But I bet you didn’t know that illegal cigarettes are distributed by a drug dealer network, or that illegal cigarettes finance organized crime. Or that illegal cigarettes make you an accomplice when you buy them.”
In the background there is the sound of a motorcycle suggesting, I suppose, that biker gangs are a part of the illegal activity you are financing. But why do otherwise law-abiding people go to the black market for their smokes? Easy – Price.
Yet as of May 1 this year, the Liberal provincial budget increased taxes on tobacco by more than 13% to $27.95 per carton, pushing the cost of legal cigarettes to nearly $90.
Newswire.ca reports, “There is already more contraband tobacco in Ontario than any other province, and with this tax increase the problem is only going to get worse.”
That was the view of Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and national spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT).
“Already, a ‘baggie’ of 200 illegal cigarettes can cost as little as $8; more than $70 less than the price of (the) legal product. A tax increase only makes the criminal market more lucrative.”
In January, Candice Malcolm, Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, reported, “A 2009 study by the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco demonstrated that of cigarette butts analyzed from 110 high schools in Ontario, 30% were contraband.
“Young people – the very people tobacco laws are designed to protect – are some of the top customers in the contraband market.”
There are estimates contraband tobacco costs the provincial and federal government over a billion dollars annually in lost revenue. Perhaps a lower tax rate, resulting in more of the market moving back to the legal product, would help solve the problem.
Governments are never going to get that money back by scolding people into being better citizens when all the government does about cigarettes is treat them as a cash cow. The radio ad concludes with an appeal for you to submit an anonymous tip if you know who is buying illegal smokes. What gall!
The government already knows who is selling illegal cigarettes. It’s mainly criminal gangs in cahoots with some Aboriginals on many reserves, where police for the most part turn a blind eye to smuggling and illegal sales, based on the fact many of the perpetrators are Aboriginal.
So governments created a black market with high tax rates while allowing criminals to control it by refusing to enforce the law based on the race of the criminals. Tax-free cigarettes are legal for sale on reserves, but not off reserves, in plain sight, while nothing is done by the police.
I am not a smoker, but I can see those who are have been hounded out of work places, restaurants and even bars, where both customers and owners are often willing to allow smoking. Meanwhile, the government reprimands ordinary citizens as if they are the problem.
To find the real solution, police and politicians need to look in the mirror.
More articles on Canada Illegal Cigarettes soon
Illegal cigarettes? Blame government
Originally Written by JERRY AGAR | TORONTO SUN