Canada, known worldwide as having one of the strictest customs systems and air tight security as far as the import of illicit imported cigarettes and other tobacco products seems to have been caught slipping. Imperial Tobacco Canada has recently made a statement accusing regional and federal government of ignoring the escalating problem with regards to illegal tobacco sales in the country.

“Part of the solution is to acknowledge that we have a problem,” said president and CEO, Benjamin J. Kemball in a speech yesterday. He usged the Canadian government to: “find effective solutions that go beyond police operations. A good first step would be to bring everyone involved to the table, from the health communities to the First Nations communities.” “Someone needs to be put in charge,” he also added. The figures being bandied about at the moment suggest that more that 30% of all cigarettes bought on Canadian soils are illegal imports. This figure rises to 40% when taking only Quebec into consideration, and 50% in Ontario. The sheer volume of illegal cigarettes being seized suggests that the trade is spreading beyond Quebec and Ontario, to other provinces. It also points to the fact that the shipments going into Canada have massively increased. Imperial also resorted to the health risk and adolescent smoker card, claiming that these cigarettes pose a greater health risk to the public due to the fact that they are manufactured in factories that do not adhere to Canadian regulations and also pose a risk to young people because they are cheaper and so constitute “pocket money prices”.

Imperial called for Canada’s prime minister to appoint a ministerial official to take responsibility of the problem by enforcing current laws and placing control over raw material and machinery. This may not be enough though, if First Nation communities are not also sat at the same table to discuss the problem and its solutions.