Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA)

Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA)

November 24, 2014 10:38 ET

Ontario Retailers Condemn Inclusion of Menthol in Flavour Ban Legislation

"Same government, two inconsistent approaches."

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 24, 2014) - Ontario retailers are deeply disappointed with the Wynne government's announcement on the inclusion of menthol tobacco in the updated flavour ban legislation, based on misleading menthol stats.

"Just one week after Minister Sousa tabled the Fall Economic Statement and vowed to work towards correcting contraband, the government introduces a ban that will flood the illegal market with new customers," says Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA). "They were aware that menthol currently exists within the contraband market and yet still proceeded with this legislation. More worryingly, to date no concrete announcement on how the government would really tackle the serious contraband issue in Ontario has been made."

The OCSA initially stood by the Government when the legislation was introduced last November as it excluded menthol and other products they believed were not youth oriented. Minister Matthews, who introduced the legislation, acknowledged herself that menthol cigarettes would be exempted as they are preferred by adults.

"It is one thing to keep tobacco out of the hands of youth, it's another to take menthol products away from legal, adult customers," added Bryans. "Given the expansive trafficking network, its low cost and widespread availability, youth will still have access to these products regardless of the ban."

"There is no debate that we should be working towards zero tobacco consumption among youth," said Alex Scholten, President of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA). "But the reality is some of these stats are being used to fix a problem where there's little to fix. It is taking attention away from how to deal with overall youth tobacco consumption and solutions to solving this problem in particular."

The menthol ban is yet another setback for Ontario's 7,000 family run convenience stores, particularly those located in communities within close proximity to smoke shacks on reserve. The Association is worried this latest ban will send adult menthol customers to the underground market, which is already thriving.

"Our small businesses cannot continue to bear the brunt of well-intentioned, but misdirected efforts to reduce tobacco consumption," said Bryans.

The OCSA believes that an alternative to flavour bans that would have immediately addressed the issue of youth consumption was to penalize possession of tobacco products for those under the legal age. In Ontario, the sale of tobacco to minors is illegal however possession and consumption is not.

ABOUT THE OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.

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