The province is cracking down on illegal cigarettes.
It says more than five million were taken off B.C. streets last year, saving the province $1.4 million in potential taxation revenue loss.
“The illegal tobacco was seized during undercover investigations conducted with local law enforcement agencies,” the province says. “The Ministry of Finance’s Consumer Taxation Audit Branch also regularly inspects retail outlets to ensure retailers are not selling contraband products.”
Surrey, Vancouver and Kelowna top the list for amounts of tobacco seized during operations:
- Surrey: approximately 3.6 million cigarettes
- Vancouver: approximately 1.6 million cigarettes
- Kelowna: approximately 82,000 cigarettes
The province strictly regulates the sale, purchase, possession and transportation of tobacco.
It says contraband tobacco includes products that are not properly stamped or marked, or legal products that are purchased and sold illegally.
“Contraband tobacco can get into the hands of people under the age of 19 and can contribute to increased criminal activities, such as organized crime and drug and gun trafficking.”
The province adds that a loss of tax revenue due to illegal tobacco means less funding for government programs.