More than 5 million illegal cigarettes were taken off the street last year in British Columbia
The illegal tobacco was seized during undercover investigations conducted with local law enforcement agencies. Retail locations are regularly audited by the Ministry of Finance and Consumer Taxation Branch to ensure retailers are not selling contraband products.
This saves the Province $1.4 million in potential taxation revenue loss, revenue that could be put toward the services and programs that British Columbians rely on, including health care, infrastructure and education.
Surrey, Vancouver and Kelowna top the list for amounts of tobacco seized during operations:
- Surrey: approximately 3.6 million cigarettes
- Vancouver: approximately 1.6 million cigarettes
- Kelowna: approximately 82,000 cigarettes
The Province strictly regulates the sale, purchase, possession and transportation of tobacco. Contraband tobacco includes products that are not properly stamped or marked, or legal products that are purchased and sold illegally.
Contraband tobacco can get into the hands of people under the age of 19 and can contribute to increased criminal activities, such as organized crime and drug and gun trafficking. A loss of tax revenue due to illegal tobacco means reduced funding for government programs.