Government orders poster featuring closed convenience store removed from
LONDON, ON, Sept. 29, 2011 /CNW/ - London convenience stores have been
told by provincial authorities they can't display posters in their
stores aimed at educating the public about the negative effect
contraband cigarettes have on businesses and the community.
Authorities citing Smoke Free Ontario Act regulations that prohibit
tobacco promotions inside stores have ordered retailers to remove all
contraband tobacco educational posters from local convenience stores.
"The Smoke Free Ontario Act is an important public health law that is
strongly supported by Ontarians. As retailers, we work diligently to
comply with its rules every day," said Dave Bryans, President of the
Ontario Convenience Stores Association. "But regulations meant to stop
tobacco promotion have muzzled retailers and are preventing them from
educating their community about the serious problem of contraband
tobacco. This isn't right and isn't fair. No government law should
stop small businesses from being able to speak freely about an issue -
especially during an election."
The posters depicted a number of scenes indicative of the contraband
tobacco epidemic: a closed convenience store; a school setting where
students frequently have contraband tobacco; vermin, as RCMP lab tests
have shown evidence of feces in contraband cigarettes; and, drug
syringes as police indicate many contraband tobacco smugglers also
trade in drugs. Convenience stores are complying with the government
order to remove the posters.
"I've spoken to over 2,000 convenience store retailers over the past two
years and many have all but given up hope the Ontario government will
fix the problem," said Angie Kim, Retailer Liaison for the Ontario
Convenience Stores Association. "For these stores, the contraband issue
is not about profits, it's about the ability of these families to pay
the mortgage and save enough to send their kids to university."
Illegal cigarettes remain a huge problem in Ontario with smugglers
earning millions in profits which they often use to finance other, more
serious criminal activities. Contraband smugglers freely sell these
cigarettes for pocket-change, often to kids, without respecting any of
the other laws and regulations under which legal retailers operate.
Convenience store retailers have been outspoken on the issue of
contraband tobacco since 2005. Over the past several years, over 1,000
convenience stores have gone out of business, in large part due to the
effects of the illegal contraband market on these law-abiding
Image with caption: "The Ontario government has used a law prohibiting tobacco promotion to ban convenience store posters aimed at educating the public about the issue of tobacco smuggling during the election. Posters like this one highlighted the negative effect contraband cigarettes have on businesses and the community. (CNW Group/Ontario Convenience Stores Association)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20110929_C7637_PHOTO_EN_4013.jpg
SOURCE Ontario Convenience Stores Association
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