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Atlantic Forum on Contraband Tobacco brings together provinces, the private sector and law-enforcement in effort to tackle the illicit market that fuels organized crime

TORONTO, ON, April 17, 2024 – Bringing together small business, provincial law enforcement agencies, Crime Stoppers, and government officials, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. (RBH) hosted the first  ever Atlantic Forum on Contraband Tobacco.

The Forum, held on April 16, 2024, the same day as the release of Canada’s federal budget, provided a venue for representatives from all Atlantic provinces to share invaluable insights, information, strategies, and collaborate to combat contraband tobacco in Atlantic Canada.

Contraband is a rising issue across Canada, hurting both government revenue and public safety. Last year alone, Nova Scotia seized more than 3 million illegal cigarettes. A study conducted by Ernst and Young, and commissioned by the Convenience Store Industry Council of Canada, estimated up to 44 per cent of cigarettes sold in Newfoundland and Labrador are contraband. The same study found potentially one out of two cigarettes in Ontario are sold by organized crime.

Criminal organizations do not respect provincial boundaries, only federal coordination, leadership and resources can fix this growing national issue.

Contraband tobacco is not a victimless crime, it hurts small business owners who follow the rules while also making our communities less safe. Contraband is controlled by, and directly funds organized crime, including gun and drug trafficking, while increasing the risk of youth access to cigarettes. Simply put, criminals selling illegal tobacco are not checking ID.


“The federal government’s decision to increase tobacco taxes above and beyond the rate of inflation will only expand Canada’s growing contraband tobacco market, putting more money in the pockets of organized crime while making our communities less safe. As more and more consumers buy illegal tobacco to avoid these new taxes, government revenue will only go down, not up, meaning less revenue for vital public services.”

- Kory McDonald, Director, External Affairs, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges

“Yesterday’s Atlantic Forum on Contraband Tobacco brought together the best from Atlantic Canada to work together, share information and best practices to boost government revenue and protect our communities. What’s really needed, is federal leadership, coordination and resources to put an end to this organized criminal activity that’s directly linked to gun and drug trafficking, and potentially putting cigarettes in the hands of kids.”


Danny Fournier, Manager Illicit Trade Prevention, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges



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About Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc.

Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. (RBH), an affiliate of Philip Morris International Inc., is one of Canada’s leading tobacco and nicotine companies and is working to deliver a smoke-free future. RBH is committed to sustainability and creating a positive impact on communities, the economy, and the environment. Currently, RBH employs nearly 800 people across the country with its headquarters in Toronto and a factory in Québec City. Discover more about the company at and stay updated on RBH’s transformation by following Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Brayden Akers, Media Relations Lead