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Black market for smuggled cigarettes tops $1 billion in Canada

The latest installment of "Tobacco Underground," an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposes how U.S. and Canadian Indian tribes and organized crime gangs are behind a $1 billion black market in smuggled cigarettes in Canada. "Over the last six years, as Ottawa and provincial governments began hiking tobacco taxes to curb smoking and raise funds, the smuggling business has grown 'exponentially,' according to the country’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). At a time when a crumbling economy has forced governments into deficit financing, Canadian smugglers &#8212 dominated by members of Indian tribes and in some cases their mob partners &#8212 are pocketing hundreds of millions in profits. The cheap cigarettes not only fuel the spread of smoking, which costs Canadians more than C$4 billion annually in health care, but also rob governments of money that otherwise would go into official coffers to pay for healthcare and other services."

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