Western Convenience Stores Association

Western Convenience Stores Association

November 05, 2014 11:00 ET

Illegal Tobacco Widely Available Across Alberta

Rates as high as 41.3% found in grocery stores, public buildings and schools

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Nov. 5, 2014) - Alberta convenience store retailers are concerned following the release of a study showing high rates of illegal tobacco is available in communities across Alberta.

The Western Convenience Stores Association commissioned a contraband tobacco study, which examined discarded cigarette butts at 49 sites throughout Alberta to determine if illegal (contraband) cigarettes were being purchased and smoked. Samples were gathered between September 10th and September 26th and found illegal tobacco usage rates as high as 41.3% at some locations. The average rate of illegal tobacco use at tested sites was 9.8%.

"The availability of illegal tobacco is clearly a problem in Alberta," said Andrew Klukas, President of the Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA). "Contraband tobacco is being used in schools and in communities across the province."

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. According to the RCMP, illegal tobacco is also linked with organized crime, thereby impacting local safety.

Results included the area surrounding Real Canadian Super Store in Medicine Hat with an illegal tobacco usage rate of 41.3%; the Winston Churchill High School in Lethbridge at 28.2%; the Victoria Park/Stampede LRT Station in Calgary at 20.9%; and the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in Edmonton at 15.3%.

"Illegal tobacco is sold without proper taxation making its rock bottom pricing appealing to young people," says Klukas. "Premier Prentice and his government need to address this issue."

The WCSA asks the Alberta government to consider stronger anti-contraband legislation and to allocate additional resources for enforcement. The WCSA 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.


The WCSA is a not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of over 2,400 Alberta convenience store retailers. These retailers employ more than 20,000 people and contribute over $7 billion annually to the province's economy. Its mission is to foster the success of the convenience store industry in Western Canada by representing the best interests of its members and the communities they serve.

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