TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 3, 2013) - The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) applauds the inclusion of anti-contraband tobacco measures in the provincial budget tabled yesterday. The Wynne government announced consideration of amendments to the Tobacco Tax Act that would include increased fines for those convicted of illegal tobacco offences, forfeiture of illegal seized tobacco items and strengthening provisions to improve the statute in meeting the government's commitments.
"On behalf of the OCSA, I would like to commend the Ontario government for taking appropriate steps towards combatting this serious issue," said CEO Dave Bryans. "Contraband tobacco is not only a major issue for our 7,500 retailers across Ontario but as we've seen throughout our municipal campaign, communities across the province want the provincial government to act," said Bryans.
The government's enhanced enforcement measures are expected to generate an additional $350 million in revenue over the next four years.
A recent study by Abacus Data shows that more than 70% of Ontarians recognize that contraband tobacco leads to negative effects on government revenues, an increase in organized crime and youth access to the product. "Certainly, youth access to tobacco is a major concern and our retailers are the only gatekeeper to ensuring that minors cannot have this product," said Bryans.
The OCSA also applauds the Government for acknowledging the threat of increased tobacco smuggling surrounding the movement of the Cornwall border. The proposed movement of the border has raised concern for retailers, given the continued persistence and presence of contraband in Cornwall.
The OCSA is continuing its Communities Against Contraband Tobacco campaign, reaching out to municipalities across the province and has also recently launched an in-store awareness campaign to engage customers about the dangers of contraband. "We are hopeful that these commitments will assist in keeping Ontarians safe while ensuring that illegal tobacco stays out of the hands of our youth."