The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco has begun an advertising campaign intended to raise awareness of the impact of contraband tobacco in the Ottawa region. The campaign consists of transit shelter ads in and around the city. The group hopes the initiative will reduce demand for contraband tobacco. "We are launching this campaign because contraband tobacco is a serious problem in Ontario and it's essential that government and the public at large start to take it more seriously," said coalition spokesperson Gary Grant. "Contraband tobacco is a prime source for youth smoking, and that is reason enough to act. But the sad truth is that contraband tobacco is also used as a cash cow for illegal gangs. Meanwhile, illegal cigarettes cost governments in Canada $2.1 billion annually in lost tax revenue each year. It is our hope that this advertising campaign will make an impact with politicians on the national level so that we can start to see them follow through on their commitments to the contraband problem." The coalition includes the Canadian Convenience Stores Association, the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, the National Convenience Stores Distributors Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and others.