Convenience association calls for action to axe illegal smoke sales

A fake package of cigarettes sits on a table, provided by the Canadian Convenience Stores Association.



OTTAWA -- More enforcement measures from the federal government are needed to combat Canada's contraband tobacco trade, a national retail association said Tuesday.

RCMP intelligence has identified more than 175 organized crime groups involved in the contraband tobacco trade, but the Canadian Convenience Stores Association says the issue remains a major "public safety issue" that requires partnerships between all levels of government.

The CCSA, which identifies itself as the voice of Canadian retailers, wants the government to follow through on its commitment to hire 50 additional RCMP officers designated to the Cornwall area.

CCSA president Alex Scholten says community safety is at risk due to a growth in underground smoke sales.

Illegal cigarettes do not feature mandatory tobacco warning labels and experts say their retail fuels consumption among young people and feeds organized crime.

"We are frustrated and disappointed that more has not been done," Scholten said.

Scholten's association met with MPs in Ottawa Tuesday to call for additional resources to help tackle the issue.

Municipal governments, including the City of Ottawa, have passed motions against contraband tobacco.

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