From: NACS Online
WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Manitoba has been a hotbed of illegal cigarettes, with close to 2 million being seized by law enforcement over the past eight months, CBC News reports. In February, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Manitoba Finance officials nabbed 1.45 million illegal smokes, with another half million seized last month.
Court documents related to the arrest of two brothers involved in the smuggling points to First Nations in southern Ontario as being the source of the contraband cigarettes. Selling untaxed tobacco is illegal in Manitoba, as it is in the rest of Canada.
The Western Convenience Store Association emphasized that illegal cigarettes contribute to the demise of small businesses such as convenience stores. Close to 2,500 small retailers have shut their doors in Quebec and Ontario because of the widespread availability of contraband cigarette, said Andrew Klukas with the association.
“When you are competing with sellers who needn’t charge all of the taxes on tobacco, you simply cannot compete,” he said. “It reduces the flow of customers into the store and reduces the sale of other goods — nutritional products, food, bread, milk, that sort of thing.”