Imperial Tobacco Canada asks: “What would a world with no legal tobacco industry really look like?”

SI_11Reposted from Imperial Tobacco Canada

          Montreal, May 30, 2013 – Every year around the world, May 31st  is known as World No Tobacco Day. While some of the industry’s critics are concerned with improving public health, a vocal minority seems more concerned with simply driving the tobacco industry out of business, assuming this will see an end to smoking overnight.

          Imperial Tobacco Canada believes these critics should be careful what they wish for and poses the question: “What would a world with no legal tobacco industry really look like?”

“The reality is that there will always be a number of adults that will continue to make a conscious decision to smoke despite the health risks,” said Marie Polet, President and CEO.  “But instead of buying legal, taxed cigarettes, made by legitimate tobacco companies and sold by reputable retailers, they would turn to black market sources to get what they want.”

         The tobacco industry is highly regulated, sells a legal product and is a legitimate business. Imperial Tobacco Canada conducts itself in a professional and responsible way, abiding by all the laws and regulations set forth by governments across Canada.

          Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the sophisticated network of illegal traffickers, ready and waiting to step in and take over should the legitimate tobacco industry cease to exist. Canada is already home to more than 50 unlicensed and unregulated cigarette factories and 300 smoke-shacks located on First Nations reserves. Governments are already losing billions of dollars in tax revenues annually, while a recent study from the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit states that contraband cigarettes undermine government smoking cessation efforts.

“These people don’t abide by the law or follow government regulation, they don’t pay taxes, they don’t care what’s in their products and they happily sell to minors. If the legal tobacco industry didn’t exist to supply tobacco products, illegal traffickers would fill the void and this cannot be the outcome that society wants,” said Ms. Polet.

          Imperial Tobacco Canada has a long term commitment to sustainability; strives to bring reduced harm products to the Canadian market; continues to fight illegal tobacco trade; generates excise revenue; and provides employment to thousands of employees and suppliers.

However, a world with no legitimate tobacco industry would see an end to:

• Responsible product marketing: We want to be perfectly clear, kids should not smoke. Children are not and will never be our audience. Our marketing is aimed at informed adult smokers who are aware of the health risks associated with tobacco use. But the same can’t be said about illegal traffickers who are already actively selling tobacco products without asking any proof-of-age. Black market cigarettes are also significantly cheaper, making them more accessible to children at pocket money prices.

• Over $8 billion per year in taxes: That’s the figure generated in tobacco taxes in Canada each year, at least ten times the net profit of the entire industry.

• Transparent, accountable and responsible manufacturers and a rise in tobacco trafficking and associated criminality: The RCMP and the FBI have stated that among those who traffic illegal tobacco some also deal in money laundering, drugs, human trafficking and fund terrorist organisations.

• Product quality:  Illegal cigarettes are produced in factories that are not inspected and for which there is no quality control. We work tirelessly to manage the integrity of our entire supply chain and provide adults customers with high quality products that comply with more than 200 laws and regulations.

• Thousands of jobs: Imperial Tobacco Canada and the entire tobacco industry employ thousands of people directly and  indirectly.

• Significant investment in research and development of reduced-risk tobacco products: There would be no incentive for criminals to start doing this.

          British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Canada’s parent company, continues to work towards developing a range of potentially less risky tobacco and nicotine-based alternatives that would meet adult smokers’ expectations.

Media contact:

Imperial Tobacco Canada Media Relations
514-932-6161 ext: 2113

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