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CBCNews.ca readers question new contraband tobacco bill

Categories: Community, Health, Politics

 "Baggies of cheap, illegal tobacco can make it easier for children and teens to get cigarettes," said Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. (Ryan Remiorz, Canadian Press)The government introduced a new bill yesterday to combat the trafficking of contraband tobacco and our story on bill S-16 got the most comments on the site overnight. 

The bill, introduced in the Senate Tuesday afternoon, would set mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking offences and also creates a new RCMP anti-contraband force comprised of 50 officers. 

The CBC Community was, by and large, skeptical of the motives of the new bill and new anti-contraband initiatives.

  • "This has noting to do with health and everything to do with revenue. Contraband tobacco must really be eating into govt revenue streams if they're prepared to take such drastic action," said  inuk of the north.

  • "A fair point and one legislators (and others) must consider when it comes time to legalize and tax cannabis (which I am for) or other currently illegal recreational drugs. Whatever benefits this will bring (it will), there are still going to be policing costs to deal with contraband and the like, so we need to account for those costs in weighing the benefits," replied loftyluke.

  • "Tobacco smuggling is an offence. These taxes were there for the last government and the governments before, and they will be there for future governments. Finally some good news from the feds," replied  Chalky*.

  • "You are probably right, but in reality the costs that smokers add to Canada's health care system due to all the severe illnesses that smoking causes, is probably quite substantially larger than lost revenues from contraband tobacco sales," replied  Edm AB Guy.

  • "As an ex-smoker, I can understand the need to control and reduce tobacco usage, especially on health concerns but the only way this will really happen is by controlling the demand through education and promotion; not with expanding the war on drugs," said  Alain G

Some of the comments focused on the mandatory minimum sentences the bill would introduce. 

  • "Mandatory minimums for any charges was the biggest mistake of the US government. I am not surprised Harpers wants to copy this. What is the point of even having a judge if he/she does not have the flexibility to judge each case independently?" said  Surreynewf

And some raised the question of what the bill would mean for First Nations if it is passed. 

  • "I hope the feds are prepared to raid the reserves. Most of the illegal tobacco business in Canada starts there," said  Therealjuice.

  • "This has nothing to do with legal cigs. The government wants to take on the Natives 'cause their cigs are tax-free. This is a tax war on Indians," said  Johnny Utah

Tags: Community, Community Reaction, Health, Politics

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