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More People Turning to the Black Market in Canada

According to the Toronto Sun, the number of people purchasing their cigarettes illegally has rocketed; leaving legal sellers with dropping profits. [1]

Apparently the 2008 rates for illegal cigarette purchases was approximately one-third, and the 2007 rates sat around 22%. This year, though, the rate has soared to 48%, meaning that almost half of smokers are bypassing the over-priced shops and buying illegally.

These stores rely on cigarette sales for up to 30% of their profits, and Imperial Tobacco President Benjamin Kemball said "The sharp spike in illegal sales is eating into those profit margins and putting independent stores out of business". The article states:

Kemball estimates governments across Canada are losing roughly $2.4 billion a year in uncollected tobacco taxes and that Ontario's share of that is about $1.1 billion.

Last year, Ontario's auditor general reported that in 2006/07 fiscal year, the loss to the province was $500 million.

"We believe it has doubled in that time and most of the figures would confirm that," Kemball said.

While governments publicly pat themselves on the back for reducing the sale of legal tobacco, data shows those people are still smoking -- they're just buying more smokes illegally.

"All the government has done is create the largest illegal tobacco market in this hemisphere, including Latin America," Kemball said.

The situation is not terribly different in the UK; while exact numbers are hard to find, and indeed quantify, it is no secret that many smokers choose to head to mainland Europe for a day or weekend to buy bulk cheap tobacco. With the price of a single packet in UK shops nearing 7, who can blame people for using alternative outlets? Especially when those outlets provdide an entire carton for not much over double that 7.  

The main difference between UK smokers and the Canadian smokers mentioned is that our proximity to mainland Europe provides the opportunity to purchase cheap tobacco in a perfectly legal manner. That being said, there are many people who buy from the black market. Irrespective of method, though, the fact remains that Canada and the UK have a similar issue: the government is continually forcing tobacco prices up, and the citizens are finding alternative suppliers. We also have a similarity in being governed by people so moronic they believe this is not happening; that decreased shop-bought cigarettes means there are less smokers.  Perhaps this is why they believe the smoking and mortality figures: their belief in correlation meaning causation.

The anti-smoking brigade is causing damage that far outweighs any semblance of good that they believe they are doing.  Even if we accept the health risks associated with passive-smoking, the fact that they are responsible for the closure of numerous pubs and clubs - and therefore directly responsible for countless people losing their livelihoods and homes - as well as supporting a black market and prompting people to undercut their own economies should make them not only ashamed, but should label them as criminals who need to be held accountable for their actions.