North Okanagan residents are being put on notice over illegal cigarettes.
The RCMP has been investigating complaints of illicit tobacco sales over the last few months.
“It is an offence to sell tobacco products that do not comply with proper federal regulatory stamps and the required provincial markings,” said Gord Molendyk, RCMP spokesperson.
Currently, all tobacco products, whether sold on a reserve to First Nations customers or off the reserve, should have the federal stamp.
“As a consumer, you are responsible to take precautions and reasonable care to ensure the tobacco is properly marked,” said Molendyk.
“If not, you commit an offence under the Tobacco Tax Act (B.C.) as well as the federal Excise Act. “
Also, a dealer that sells tobacco to taxable consumers without taking reasonable care to ensure the required markings are on the package commits an offense under the Tobacco Tax Act.
Penalties range from $500 to $1,000 for the first time, or up to three months imprisonment plus the fine for the first conviction and double that for any subsequent convictions. You could also be liable for the taxes on the product.
“In addition, tobacco products may only be purchased by a registered retail dealer from a registered wholesaler,” said Molendyk.
“Someone engaged in selling without registering commits an offence.”
Those fines range from up to $25,000 and imprisonment for not more than two years or both the fine and imprisonment.
Also, there would be assessments for the tax not collected, plus fines equal to the tax, plus interest. In all there are four different provincial and federal acts that cover the sale of tobacco products.