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According to the Canadian association, illegal cigarettes come in many forms and packages, and some are fully or partially untaxed, robbing the provincial government of millions of dollars in lost tax revenues.
"Governments have told us that education was a key tool in the war on illegal cigarettes," said Dave Bryans, CEO of the OCSA. "Our goal with these billboards is to educate the public and draw their attention to the fact that contraband tobacco is illegal and comes in many forms. Illegal tobacco not only harms small businesses, it harms the community by bypassing the tough regulation and age-checks designed to prevent minors from getting access to tobacco."
As many as one-third of all cigarettes smoke in Ontario are contraband, which is costing the province more than $500 million a year in lost revenues, stated the OCSA.
The OCSA has placed two billboards throughout the province. One highlights the sophistication of the illegal tobacco industry by informing people that illegal cigarettes come in many forms.
The second billboard focuses on fines people face if they purchase contraband tobacco, which ranges from $500 to $2,500 Canadian dollars.