Media Releases


Posted on Monday 08/27/12

The manufacture and sale of contraband tobacco puts people at risk due to its association with organized crime, and it deprives the public purse of potential revenue from lawful tobacco sales. It has also put many honest retailers out of business in Central Canada. We are working to ensure it doesn’t expand in the west.

As retailers, we must do our part to ensure the legal sale of age restricted products in our stores. With this in mind, please take a moment to review the following information on contraband products.

What is contraband?
• Illegal cigarettes, often referred to as contraband tobacco, are products that do not comply with Canada’s tobacco regulations – specifically those regarding importation, stamping, manufacturing, distribution, labeling and taxation.
• Contraband cigarettes are typically manufactured in illegal facilities on reserves in both Canada and the US.
• These products are sold and distributed via smoke shacks and through unlicensed vendors selling the products on the street.
As the eastern-most Western province, Manitoba is a critical partner in keeping contraband out of the west. Recently, a Manitoba court fined a Quebec man $1.75 million after being caught twice with large amounts of contraband cigarettes. In 2009 he was found with 1.75 million unmarked cigarettes and in 2010 he was caught with 600,000. A Manitoba court also sentenced a man from Sagkeeng First Nations to six months in jail to serve concurrent sentences for federal and provincial charges. He also received a $105,000 tax penalty.

Manitoba’s recent Budget Bill contains provisions to grant the power to issue stop-orders on anyone caught selling tobacco. This is a model for what other jurisdictions should be doing,

We commend Manitoba’s example as a model for other provinces to learn from and have begun to build a strong partnership in that province.

Press release we recognizing Manitoba's effort: