Ontario Convenience Stores Assn. to work with new and returning MPPs to tackle contraband tobacco sales across Ontario; contraband tobacco costing Ontario more than C$500M/year in lost revenues, Auditor General says

Michelle Rivera

Michelle Rivera

Oct 14, 2011 – CNW

OAKVILLE, Ontario , October 14, 2011 (press release) – The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) stated today it is looking forward to working with new and returning MPPs at Queens Park to tackle the issue of contraband tobacco sales across Ontario.

With strong election commitments from both the Ontario Liberal Party and Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario to crack down on illegal cigarettes, the OCSA indicated it is eager to work with all parties and hopes for quick action when the provincial legislature resumes this fall.

"Ontario convenience stores were pleased to see putting an end to contraband tobacco became an issue in the provincial election," said Dave Bryans, President of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. "Small, family-run convenience stores are among the hardest hit by the contraband tobacco trade in Ontario, and we were happy to see the concerns of thousands of small business owners being taken into account."

As many as one-third of cigarettes smoked in Ontario are contraband and the RCMP indicates that profits from these sales are often being used by criminal organizations to finance other more serious activities, including drug and weapons trafficking. Ontario's Auditor General has also stated that contraband tobacco is costing Ontario over half-a-billion dollars a year in lost revenues.

"The commitments made during the election were a much-needed first step, but concrete action must be taken to eliminate this very real threat to our communities," said Bryans. "We look forward to sitting down with MPPs in the coming weeks to ensure that solutions to fight contraband are implemented quickly."

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