Western Convenience Stores Association

Western Convenience Stores Association

March 27, 2015 17:24 ET

Western Convenience Stores Association: Alberta Turns Its Back on Small Business With Tax Increase

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - March 27, 2015) - The Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA) is disappointed that the Prentice government is turning its back on small business owners by increasing the provincial taxes on tobacco products.

"Increased taxes on tobacco products punishes small businesses and does nothing to address the issue of contraband tobacco," said Andrew Klukas, CEO of the Western Convenience Stores Association. "This tax will not correct the province's revenue issues and will further incentivize traffickers and organized crime."

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.

"Illicit tobacco is a public safety issue, plain and simple," stated Klukas.

Alberta communities are vulnerable to the illegal tobacco trade, and recent federal budgets have no additional enforcement resources for Western Canada leaving the provinces to fend for themselves.

According to the WCSA's contraband tobacco study in 2014, the provincial average was 9.8% with rates as high as 28.2% at high schools and transit stations. The rate at the Legislative Assembly buildings in Edmonton was 15.3%.

"We want to work with the Alberta government to address the illegal tobacco market however raising taxes is not the way to do this," emphasized Klukas. "Tax increases may appear to be a short-term gain for governments, but the consequences faced by law enforcement, consumers and our small businesses that are felt for much longer."

Alberta's convenience store retailers are urging the province to step up the fight to stop illegal tobacco sales by increasing resources for the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. The Association 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.

ABOUT THE WCSA

The WCSA is a not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of over 6,500 convenience store retailers operating throughout Western Canada. These retailers employ more than 40,000 people and contribute over $10 billion in sales to the local economy. Our mission is to foster the success of the convenience store industry in Western Canada by representing the best interests of our members, and the communities they serve.

Contact Information

  • Lindsay Doyle
    613.235.1400