OTTAWA, November 5, 2013 – The Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Central Nova, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, together with the Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P. for Edmonton–Spruce Grove, Minister of Health, today announced increased efforts to keep our streets and communities safe by keeping contraband tobacco off Canadian markets and out of the hands of children.
These changes would advance the Government’s efforts to combat the trafficking and cross-border smuggling of contraband tobacco by creating a new Criminal Code offence with mandatory penalties of imprisonment for repeat offenders, many of whom are affiliated with other serious organized criminal activity such as weapons and illegal drug trafficking.
“Our Government is committed to protecting Canadians and keeping their families safe, and we are fulfilling that promise,” said Minister MacKay. “Tobacco trafficking is a serious crime that threatens our communities and our economy—it fuels the growth of organized crime, contributing to the increased availability of illegal drugs and guns in our communities. This is unacceptable.”
Minister Ambrose agreed with the need to reduce the amount of contraband tobacco available.
“Canada is a world leader in the fight against tobacco,” said Minister Ambrose. “Taking action against individuals involved in the illegal trafficking and smuggling of contraband tobacco is essential to protect the gains we have made in reducing smoking among Canadians, particularly our young people.”
This Bill targets individuals whose activities involve the sale, offer of sale, possession for the purpose of sale, transportation, distribution or delivery of contraband tobacco, including high-volume amounts of contraband tobacco. The maximum penalty for a first offence would be six months imprisonment on summary conviction and five years imprisonment if prosecuted on indictment.
“The Harper Government is committed to keeping contraband tobacco off our streets. Cheap, illegal tobacco can make it easier for children and teens to get cigarettes into their hands and start smoking, which has a disastrous impact on their health,” said Minister MacKay. “There is no place for contraband tobacco in our communities, and today’s announcement is an important step in the fight against illegal tobacco, and the impact it’s having on young Canadians in particular.”
The Bill also proposes mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment for repeat offenders where a high volume of tobacco products is involved. The threshold to be considered “high volume” would be 10,000 cigarettes or 10 kilograms of other tobacco products.
The mandatory minimum penalties on indictment would be as follows:
- 90 days incarceration on a second conviction;
- 180 days incarceration on third conviction; and
- Two years less a day on subsequent convictions.
The passage of this legislation would help fulfill the Government’s commitment in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to stand up for victims of crime, protect the most vulnerable members of our communities and hold offenders accountable for their actions.
Backgrounder: Criminal Code Amendments to Keep Contraband Tobacco off Canadian Streets
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice
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