Western Convenience Stores Association

Western Convenience Stores Association

May 28, 2015 09:59 ET

Don't Harm Alberta Convenience Stores

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - May 28, 2015) -

Smoking is a perfectly legal activity for adults who live in the province of Alberta.

However, paid lobbyists for health organizations are trying to shame the newly elected Alberta government into making it impossible for adults to buy cigarettes from legal, regulated channels.

Caught in the crossfire are small business owners across Alberta.

The sale of legal tobacco products and the collection of the tobacco taxes is largely the job of convenience store owners.

Alberta's convenience stores employ more than 16,500 people and contribute in excess of $4.4 billion to the province's economy annually. Our stores strengthen the economy of every community - both rural and urban -and provide a unique opportunity for new Canadians to realize their dreams of owning a business.

Convenience store employees are trained not to sell cigarettes to minors - and they take that responsibility very seriously.

Convenience stores sell tobacco products from behind display bans and collect government taxes on the sale of these products

The sale of legal tobacco products brings revenue into the provincial government. Tobacco taxes jumped in Alberta on March 27th and that increase will bring in an extra $90 million each year to the province.

Alberta's real tobacco problem is that as the government regulates more and more of this legal behavior, the illegal tobacco trade in the province is growing.

Last year the Western Convenience Stores Association commissioned a study to determine if illegal cigarettes were being purchased and smoked in Alberta. We found illegal tobacco usage rates as high as 41.3% in Medicine Hat. The average rate of illegal tobacco use at tested sites was 9.8%.

Making the sale of all flavoured products like menthol cigarettes illegal will predominantly impact adults who will no longer be able to buy the products they have used responsibly and enjoyed for many years.

Adults will then try to buy their favourite products from other sources.

The illegal market knows this full well and already stocks more than 30 types of illegal menthol tobacco.

My fear is that a menthol cigarette ban will create an even larger demand for illegal tobacco products on the black market in Alberta. Criminal organizations who sell illegal tobacco products out of the back of their cars parked in front of schools don't ask to see government identification.

And since possession won't be illegal (only the sale will be), the target of this regulation actually becomes convenience stores.

Convenience stores look forward to working with the Alberta government to address youth access to tobacco and to stop the illegal tobacco market.

Andrew Klukas, President

Western Convenience Stores Association

Contact Information

  • For more information please contact:
    Lindsay Doyle
    (613) 235-1400