We’re seeing more and more contraband tobacco entering our province.
Andrew Klukas, the president of the Western Convenience Stores Association, told the Alberta Morning News that it’s not totally surprising after taxes were increased by about $10 per carton on cigarettes.
He said they’ve seen a 2% spike in illegal tobacco in the last year
“Contraband tobacco in Alberta has risen from a flat 10% in 2014/2015 to 12.3% in September, which was the last time we did our annual study,” Klukas said.
He added the he doesn’t like the idea of raising taxes on tobacco.
“I’m sure economics is one of the variables in Alberta,” Klukas said. “People have been struggling (here) so we can’t factor that out either. But definitely if your intention is to reduce tobacco consumption or to generate more revenue, I’d say raiding taxes is not the way to go.”
He said that because of that, convenience stores are not only losing out on cigarette sales, but also foot traffic.
“People that come into the store, we depend on that,” Klukas said. “Those people buy other convenience items, like bread and milk. That’s frustrating for us. But another impact is, we do a pretty good job of age testing. And we take that seriously. Our members restrict access to youth, but contraband products are sold without any controls.”
Klukas says they’re seeing an increase on illegal tobacco in all the western provinces, not only here in Alberta.
He says contraband cigarettes can be sold for about $25 for a bag of 200, as opposed to $100 dollars for the equivalent in stores. (km/amn)