VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Feb. 18, 2014) - The Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA) is concerned about the tobacco tax increase in Premier Clark's budget and its resulting effect on small business retailers and community safety.
"With increases in tobacco taxes, there should be additional resources allocated to fight the illegal market, as we've seen in other parts of Canada," said Andrew Klukas, President of the WCSA. "The tax increase announced in today's budget will increase the price disparity between legal and illegal products, making B.C more attractive to tobacco traffickers.
Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings on packages and without age-verification checks. In the absence of increased enforcement measures, increased taxes and regulations drive the tobacco market underground, meaning these products are both more affordable and accessible to youth.
"We are concerned that the contraband tobacco trade will continue to flow westbound from Central Canada and flourish in B.C.," adds Klukas. "This is a public safety issue that will also have negative effects on government tax revenue as people seek out cheaper, untaxed tobacco."
"We want to work with the Government of British Columbia to prevent a growth in the illicit market," emphasized Klukas. "Tax increases can be a short-term gain for government, but there are long term consequences faced by law enforcement, communities and our small business retailers."
The WCSA will continue to work with the provincial government on contraband tobacco by requesting the passage of proactive legislation and the provision of additional resources for revenue and law enforcement. The Association also requests that the province consult further with retailers on this issue, and work with all levels of government to address Canada's illegal tobacco problem.
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.