EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Feb. 13, 2014) - The Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA) is urging the Redford Government to maintain current tobacco tax rates after yesterday's increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco products.
"Increased taxes on tobacco products punishes small businesses and does nothing to address the issue of contraband tobacco," said Andrew Klukas, CEO of the Western Convenience Stores Association. "A further tobacco tax increase by the Alberta government would further incentivize traffickers and organized crime."
Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings on packages and without age-verification checks. Increased taxes and regulations drive the tobacco market underground, meaning these products are both more affordable and accessible to youth.
"Illicit tobacco is a public safety issue, plain and simple," stated Klukas.
Alberta communities are vulnerable to the illegal tobacco trade, and the recent federal budget had no additional contraband enforcement measures for Western Canada, leaving the provinces to fend for themselves.
Given the proposed province-wide flavour ban on all tobacco products, there is already concern amongst retailers about future increases in the underground market.
Alberta's convenience store retailers are urging the province not to follow suit with the federal government by hiking provincial taxes on tobacco products. Instead, the WCSA is asking the Alberta government to step up the fight to stop illegal tobacco sales. The Association is also asking the province to consult further with retailers on this public safety issue, and to work with all levels of government to address Canada's illegal tobacco problem.
"We want to work with the Alberta government to address youth access to tobacco and the illegal tobacco market. Raising taxes is not the way to do this," emphasized Klukas. "Tax increases may appear to be a short-term gain for governments, but the consequences faced by provincial law enforcement, communities and our small businesses that accompany these increases are felt for much longer."
ABOUT THE WCSA
The WCSA is a not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of over 6,500 convenience store retailers operating throughout Western Canada. These retailers employ more than 40,000 people and contribute over $10 billion in sales to the local economy. Our mission is to foster the success of the convenience store industry in Western Canada by representing the best interests of our members, and the communities they serve.