There’s nothing I take more pride in as a blogger than using my voice to raise awareness about issues that affect public safety. Last November I joined other bloggers across Ontario to let my readers know about the dangers illegal cigarettes posed. Admittedly before the campaign started, I was unaware of how much damage this $75 million dollar crime was causing each year.
Most Ontarians didn’t know that the illegal tobacco trade was fueling gun and drug trafficking. They didn’t know that illegal tobacco was helping to get guns into the hands of gang members, and funding terrorism efforts. Unfortunately, this was a case where ignorance was definitely not bliss. Innocent bystanders are often the victims of such criminal activity and Ontario was suffering because of it.
Almost one year later the tables are turning. As a result of the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco advocacy actions, the illegal tobacco trade is taking a hit. As a mom, this means I can feel better about the safety of my children growing up in Ontario; as a citizen, it proves that our voices can be powerful.
Still, there is work to be done.
According to the RCMP, over 175 organized crime groups are involved in the illegal tobacco market in Canada. And 74% of these groups were also involved in the drug trafficking and/or weapons trafficking. Through awareness though, and tips from the public, police are cracking down. Consider this bust that happened in March. Police confiscated more than 52,800 kg of tobacco with a street value of $13.5 million, in addition to a variety of illegal drugs. That kind of bust hurts these organizations.
Watch this short video to find out exactly how the profits from illegal tobacco sales funds criminal activity.
We need to drive even more awareness to this issue and so I’m back with three simple actions you can take to help stop the flow of illegal tobacco.
- If you smoke or know someone who smokes, think about where your money is going when you buy contraband tobacco. 99.9% of people wouldn’t buy illegal cigarettes if they knew it was putting guns into the hands of criminals.
- If you see illegal tobacco products or people selling illegal tobacco products, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
- Help raise awareness by sharing this post on your social channels using the #stopillegaltobacco hashtag. Follow the hashtag to stay informed. Follow @stopcontraband on Twitter and Stop Illegal Tobacco on Facebook.
If we can make this big of an impact in the flow of illegal tobacco in just under a year, imagine how much we can accomplish in two!