Reinforce Penalties for Illegal Tobacco
Because of the new legislation, from Quebec, even tobacco consumers could be hit with fines, arrests, in attempt to buy cigarettes from black market.
The Quebec government intends to take severe measures against tobacco smuggling, penalizing also the consumers who buy illegal cigarettes and the distributors who sell them.
The new low reinforces fines and severe penalties for illegal retailers and manufacturers, and would extend the measures to their customers as well.
The bill would also give local police authority to stop the sale of unlawful tobacco products and allow municipalities to keep all the issues confiscated during captures that eventually lead to persuasions.
“If we were be able to collect taxes from all those who smoke contraband cigarettes, we would collect $300-million more per year. Our objective is to collect all taxes… and we are convinced that if everyone had no choice but to buy legal cigarettes, a great number of them would quit,” Quebec Revenue Minister Robert Dutil said.
It is considered that about one-third of all cigarettes sold in Quebec are bought on the black market.
Mr. Dutil explained that arranged crime is manufacturing the illegal cigarettes, and that the new measures could disable the distribution network.
For the first time, municipal police would be able to capture and fine consumers and retailers of contraband cigarettes. Local police will be empowered to search cars and even confiscate vehicles used to carry contraband tobacco. Municipalities would have a back in the actions because they would be able to keep all fines accumulated from illegal tobacco sales.
The Quebec government hopes that the new anti-tobacco measures will put an end once and for all to contraband tobacco and will bring justice back in the selling of cigarettes. Retailers were ecstatic with the initiative, saying that Quebec has become the first provincial government to lay down a clear plan to eradicate the illegal sale of tobacco.
“We are going to use it instantly to get the federal government and the Ontario government to move,” said Michel Gadbois, vice-president of the Canadian Convenient Stores Association. He considered that if the bill diminishes contraband tobacco to 10 percent of the market rather than a third, as it currently stands, the government will have won the battle.
If the new measures fail to eliminate contraband tobacco, the association will strengthen its push for government to reduce tobacco taxes to make illegal smokes less attractive.
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