Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA)

Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA)

November 17, 2014 14:58 ET

Retailers Welcome Ontario Government's Commitment to Addressing Contraband Tobacco

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 17, 2014) - Ontario's convenience store retailers are pleased with the mention of illegal/contraband tobacco in Minister Sousa's Fall Economic Statement released today.

"Illegal tobacco has cost this government almost a billion dollars in lost revenue, so we are thankful that fairness in taxation is a priority in this statement," says Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA).

The provincial government reaffirmed its commitment to expanding the raw leaf oversight in 2015, a measure they are hopeful will help impede the flow of raw leaf tobacco to contraband tobacco product manufacturers and address some of the concerns raised by law enforcement agencies. The OCSA was also pleased to see commitments for additional information sharing between ministries as well as public reporting on progress to eliminate contraband tobacco as part of new initiatives in today's statement.

A federal and provincial tobacco tax increase earlier this year has created incentive for customers to purchase from the illegal market to take advantage of rock-bottom pricing. This is coupled with the availability of products that have been banned in the legal market, including flavoured tobacco products. The OCSA and its retailers have noticed an overall reduction in customers who purchase taxed, regulated tobacco products from their stores and believe there is a general lack of awareness amongst consumers about the issue.

"We would welcome additional measures to deter the sale and purchase of contraband tobacco products through a public awareness campaign aimed at educating consumers about the legal and financial ramifications of supporting this black-market industry," said Bryans. "We want to work with the government to inform our customers about the consequences of purchasing of untaxed products as it is not a victimless crime."

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings and without age verification checks, to anyone willing to buy. The OCSA has conducted a contraband tobacco study that re-assesses sites across the province to determine the prevalence of illegal tobacco in those communities. The Association will release these results before the end of 2014, along with recommendations for future action.

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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