WINNIPEG, June 12, 2012 /CNW/ - The Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA) today commended the Government of Manitoba for protecting the public and especially minors by shutting down a smoke shack selling illegal, contraband cigarettes, and taking steps to allow themselves to quickly shut down any smoke shacks in the future.
"We're pleased that the government has taken swift action to shut down the Dakota Chundee smoke shack," said Andrew Klukas, President of the WCSA. "And through the proposed Budget changes, they'll be able to move even faster against these smoke shacks that flout the law. This is critical as the spread of contraband cigarettes creates health and safety risks for the public, and hurts small-business, convenience-store employers, who operate lawfully and responsibly."
After taking the Dakota Chundee smoke shack to court the Manitoba Government was granted an interim injunction ordering the smoke shack to close. This was followed up by introducing provisions in the Budget to allow the province to shut down these illegal operations under the Tobacco Tax Act, without requiring a court order. This will let the province act quickly in any future cases.
"A major concern with illegal smokes shacks is that the illegally-manufactured cigarettes, at half the price of legal cigarettes, are far more accessible to youth" Klukas said. "It creates safety risks for the public because of its association with organized crime, and deprives the government of revenue from lawful tobacco sales."
In the past two years across Canada, 2,300 convenience stores have closed their doors due in large part to the increased use of contraband tobacco. With some of the highest tobacco taxes in Canada, Manitoba and the Prairie Provinces are a prime breeding ground for illicit tobacco markets. In eastern Canada, there are more than 300 illegal smoke shacks and 50 illegal manufacturers looking for opportunities to expand into the west.
"That's why it's so important that Manitoba has moved decisively to shut down this smoke shack and any others. Allowing them to remain open would have sent the signal that Manitoba is fair game for contraband cigarettes," added Klukas.
WCSA encourages all provincial governments to remain vigilant in protecting public interests and stopping the spread of contraband tobacco.
About the WCSA
The Western Convenience Stores Association represents over 6,000 family-owned and corporate-owned convenience stores that employ over 30,000 people in communities across western Canada.
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