The Ontario government is facing a bigger problem with contraband tobacco than other provinces in Canada, Macdonald-Laurier Institute Senior Fellow Christian Leuprecht told Global TV in an interview.
Leuprecht appeared on the Global program Focus Ontario in the lead-up to the most recent meeting of the Anti-Contraband Tobacco Working Group, held March 3 in Toronto.
“The problem in Ontario seems to be outsized compared to other jurisdictions in North America, and other jurisdictions worldwide, and so one of the things I think we need to think about is why do we have this outsized problem”, Leuprecht tells the program.
Contraband tobacco is a concern for a number of reasons, Leuprecht said. Not only is it leading to millions of dollars in lost excise tax revenue for the provincial government, contraband has also been linked to terrorism and organized crime.
Leuprecht suggests that the province may want to look at reducing excise taxes, since this pushes up the price of legal cigarettes and makes contraband more attractive.
The Ontario government has said it is looking at measures to rein in the province's problem with contraband tobacco.
Leuprecht also spoke with CBC Radio in Windsor and Radio-Canada in Toronto in lead-up to the March 3 event.
Last year, he also dealt with the issue in an op-ed published by the Toronto Star.