OKBA to consider campaigning against Liberals if government introduces new tobacco taxes in budget

TORONTO, April 30, 2014 /CNW/ - The Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association (OKBA) is shocked to learn that the Wynne government is considering an increase to tobacco taxes in this week's provincial budget. Should the government proceed with this decision, the OKBA will be calling for all of its members, as well as the 8000+ Convenience Store retailers in Ontario, to remember the impact increased taxes would have on their business, in the event a spring election is called.

The OKBA has been actively lobbying MPPs since early March, advising government and opposition members alike how devastating a new tobacco tax increase would be to convenience stores owners in Ontario. The federal government's $4 excise tax increase, introduced in its February budget, has already negatively impacted legal tobacco sales in Ontario and additional provincial taxes will have an even greater impact.

"History has shown time and time again, when the price difference between legal tobacco and illegal contraband tobacco is too high, everybody loses," stated Don Cha, General Manager of the OKBA. "Since 2009, hundreds of our members have closed their stores and gone out of business as more and more smokers turn to the illegal market. When this happens, government loses important tax revenue and more kids get access to illegal tobacco. Any new additional taxes threatens to wipe out any small gains made the government has made against the illegal market and hurt more small business owners. We don't understand why the government would do this at this time", added Cha.

The OKBA currently has 1500 members in communities all across Ontario. While they have always been politically active, this is the first time they could actively campaign against a government in power.

"Every voter in Ontario must make their own choice should an election be called," Mr Cha stated. "However, we are going to be clearly telling our members, as well as the tens of thousands of Ontarians that visit our stores every day, that this government's decision to raise tobacco taxes will hurt small business and all Ontarians. We just can't afford to sit quietly and not take a stand. Such a decision would be devastating to our members' livelihood," Cha concluded.

The OKBA is calling on the 8500 Convenience Stores across Ontario to take a stand against the Liberal government in a spring election, should they proceed with a tobacco tax in Thursday's budget. The OKBA is hoping that Finance Minister Charles Sousa will reconsider the government's decision to introduce new tobacco taxes in Ontario, given the consequences it would have on thousands of family owned businesses and the communities they reside in.

About OKBA
Founded in 1973, the OKBA is a not profit association representing 1500 independent business owners of Korean descent, in hundreds of communities across Ontario.

SOURCE Ontario Korean's Businessmen's Association

For further information: Don Cha - General Manager 416-569-5962 or doncha@okba.net