The contraband tobacco market in New Brunswick results in an estimated revenue loss to the province of $13 million a year.

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In its first six months of operation, the Department of Justice and Public Safety’s Contraband Enforcement Unit has seized 843,925 illegal cigarettes.

The mandate of the unit is to disrupt the production, distribution and sale of illegal tobacco. Since the unit became operational in April, the nine-person team has conducted covert investigations and provided a uniformed presence throughout the province.

Between April 1 and Sept. 30, the unit made 17 seizures of illegal cigarettes in various communities. Seizures were made with the assistance of policing agencies in Fredericton, Edmundston, Miramichi, Richibucto, Bathurst and Campbellton. The estimated retail value of cigarettes seized is $506,355.

“Illegal tobacco has a significant negative impact on New Brunswickers, and in particular young people, as potential consumers of these illegal products,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry. “I am proud of the co-operation we have received from the public and our partner agencies across the province. This support has been a key contributor to the early success of this unit.”

Authorities say revenue from the sale of illegal tobacco is often funneled into organized crime. Manufacturers of illegal tobacco products are not subject to standards or inspections.

Anyone with information on the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco is encouraged to contact NB Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).