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Tobacco tax increases lead to CRIME

August 18 2004 at 9:14 AM
noLIES  (Login steelblue)


Organized crime smuggling tobacco

"It's almost untraceable."

Giroux's concern was driven home Tuesday when thieves in Winnipeg hijacked a delivery truck and stole a load of cigarettes.

Meanwhile, police say no particular group has cornered the black market in stolen tobacco.

Corner stores have become a favoured target -so much so that the Progressive Alliance of Retailers, a Nova Scotia group that represents independent store owners in the province, is warning that cigarettes could soon become too dangerous to sell.

"I think the writing is on the wall," said spokesman Reg Loughead, whose group is based in Truro, N.S. "As the price increases and sales drop, there's much more risk to carrying them in your inventory."

There have been a number of major, sometimes spectacular, tobacco heists this year.

In early August, thieves in Edmonton made off with a semi-trailer loaded with cigarettes and tobacco worth $700,000.

In Halifax, armed robbers bound and gagged employees at a Costco outlet, then made off in a stolen van filled with cigarettes.

In April, $1.7 million in tobacco went missing from a truck in Mississauga, Ont., and another $4.2-million worth of tobacco was stolen in Langley, B.C., with the hijacking of a rig.

In recent years, governments across the country have raised tobacco taxes in a bid to balance their books...

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