OTTAWA, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The Canadian government isn't doing enough to combat the distribution of contraband cigarettes, a lobby group said Wednesday at an Ottawa news conference.
The cigarettes are largely distributed through Indian reservations in Ontario and Quebec, although the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco claimed the untaxed smokes are spreading throughout the country, Postmedia News reported.
The group represents tobacco companies, convenience stores and customs officers, all of which are affected by the growing availability of the cigarettes.
Group spokesman Gary Grant, who was a Toronto police officer for 39 years, told reporters the government's response to the contraband issue was more about public relations than action.
"It's a government that talks tough on crime, but doesn't follow through, in this area at least," Grant said.
Earlier this month police seized 14 million cigarettes in 45,000 cartons in Alberta, far from the hotbed distribution sites in Ontario and Quebec, Grant said.
In Toronto, a carton of legal cigarettes can cost as much as $85 in convenience stores, while 70 miles to the west on the Six Nations reservation, cartons cost as little as $19.