February 13, 2014 16:14 ET
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Feb. 13, 2014) - The Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA) is urging the Christy Clark Government to maintain current tobacco tax rates after this week's increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco products.
"There are serious negative and unintended consequences that come with a high tobacco tax policy," said Andrew Klukas, President of the WCSA. "A tobacco tax increase by the B.C. government would harm small business owners while incentivizing 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.
"We want to work with the Government of British Columbia to address youth access to tobacco and the illegal tobacco market. Raising taxes is not the way to do this," emphasized Klukas. "Tax increases can be a short-term gain for governments, but there are long term consequences faced by provincial law enforcement, communities and our small businesses."
B.C'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 provincial government to take action on contraband tobacco through proactive legislation and allocating additional resources for enforcement. The Association is also asking the province to consult further with retailers on this public safety 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.
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