A JTI-Macdonald Corp. Initiative. (It’s always best to see both sides.)
(It’s always best to see both sides.) A JTI-Macdonald Corp. Initiative.

10 things the RCMP want you to know about illegal cigarettes

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are at the forefront of the battle against crime. On occasion, this means the federal government hampers their work rather than makes it easier for them.


It’s estimated there are 19-23 million cartons of illegal cigarettes consumed each year in Canada1. The evidence from Australia is that illegal trade has increased since Australia introduced plain packaging.2 The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has proven that the market in illegal cigarettes is used to fund other criminal activities3,4.

  1. As of 2011, there were over 175 organized crime groups5 identified in the trafficking of illegal tobacco. Proceeds from the sale of illegal tobacco can be linked directly to organized crime and gang activity in major urban centres6.
  2. The federal and provincial governments are losing revenue as a result of the sale of non-taxed illegal tobacco, which then increases the tax burden for all taxpayers.
  3. Illegal tobacco is easily available to minors, as these cigarettes are available at very low cost and the sales are not regulated.
  4. Many traffickers of illegal tobacco are also involved in drug trafficking, and sales of illegal cigarettes funds the trade in illegal guns.
  5. Illegal cigarettes provide an introduction to gangs for school kids.
  6. The presence of organized crime among those who sell illegal tobacco can also mean that other illicit products – such as guns and drugs – will be offered for sale to youth as well.
  7. Many traffickers of illegal tobacco are also involved in weapons trafficking.
  8. The sale of illegal tobacco products generates unfair competition for honest businesses, which also brings about a drop in tax revenues.
  9. The sale of illegal tobacco is fuelling gun and gang violence.
  10. The prevalence of organized crime groups in Canada could be a significant border concern that could impact Canada’s trade agreements with the United States.

Tell the government what you think by emailing your MP.

1 Daudelin, J, et al (2013). Border Integrity, Illicit Tobacco, and Canada’s Security. Macdonald-Laurier Institute, pp8. Available at: Click to view Retrieved 23 July 2016

2 Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. (2014). Annual Reports 2013-14, pp. 26. Available here: http://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/annual-reports/ACBPS_AR_2013-14.pdf Retrieved 04 August 2016

3 Gabler, N; Katz, D. (2010). Contraband Tobacco in Canada. Fraser Institute, pp.13. Available here: Click to view Retrieved: 8 August 2016

4 Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (2011). Contraband Tobacco Injects Criminal Activity Into Our Communities. Available at: Click to view Retrieved 8 August 2016

5 Oliver, Joe, Chief Supt. 2010. Testimony before the House of Commons Committee on Public Security and National Security. 27 April. Available at Click to view Last accessed: 5 August 2016

6 Fildebrandt, D.(2012). How Much is Contraband Tobacco Costing
Taxpayers in Ontario? Canadian Taxpayers Federation, pp.10. Available here: Click to view Retrieved: 5 August 2016

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