• Quebec Law To Butt Out Illegal Cigarettes
  • The Quebec government has tabled legislation to clamp down on illegal cigarette smuggling and sales that cost the province an estimated $300 million annually in lost tax revenue.

    Quebec Revenue Minister Robert Dutil says the proposed bill, tabled at the national assembly on Wednesday, includes 15 measures targeting producers, distributors and consumers.

    "Fines will increase" for illegal sales and distribution, from an average of $3,000 to $10,000, he told CBC News.

    "The work of police will be facilitated by the new law. We will have more teeth in our law, to permit us to stop smuggling."

    Law enforcement agencies will have broader powers to stop and search vehicles, and their jurisdiction will include First Nations communities, Dutil said.

    The proposed legislation, known as Bill 59, also calls for a moratorium on new permits for cigarette makers.

    The government estimates contraband cheap cigarettes account for about one-third of all cigarettes online consumed annually in Quebec.

    At a news conference on Wednesday, Dutil denied suggestions the bill was acknowledging Quebec's failure to rein in its notorious contraband tobacco industry.

    Dutil suggested that if people had to buy legal discount cigarettes taxed at regular rates, many of them would give up smoking cigarettes.

    Quebec's provincial legislature will vote on the proposed law later this fall.