Convenience stores battle untaxed smokes

Milk stores are arranging for customers to complain to provincial ministers from the stores

smokesThe Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) is launching a contraband tobacco awareness campaign in Toronto convenience stores. The campaign will allow customers to send a letter to Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa and Premier Kathleen Wynne directly from the store, via an electronic tablet. The letter encourages the Ontario Government to follow through on its 2012 Budget commitments against contraband tobacco.

“We are building on our municipal anti-contraband tobacco initiative from 2012 that saw several dozen municipal governments (representing over 40% of Ontarians) pass motions urging the government to take action on contraband tobacco,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the OCSA. “Our new campaign will provide individual retail customers an opportunity to voice their concerns on contraband tobacco,” added Mr. Bryans.

Ontarians are growing increasingly concerned about contraband tobacco, as shown in a recent public opinion survey conducted by the OCSA. According to the survey (conducted in April 2013 by Abacus Data), 41% of Ontarians believe contraband tobacco is a problem. In addition, 75% of Ontarians agree that raising taxes will cause a surge in the use of contraband tobacco, thereby increasing illegal smuggling of the product into the province.

“This campaign is a way for our retailers to engage local customers about the perils of contraband tobacco-not only its effects on small business owners but the loss of government revenue, the effect on public safety and the increase in youth access to illegal tobacco products,” Dave Bryans concluded.