The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) is applauding Canadian police for their recent seizure of cash, an automobile and 220 cartons of illegal cigarettes at a local convenience store in the Windsor, Ontario area.
“The OCSA maintains that it is never acceptable to purchase or sell illegal tobacco products, nor do we condone this activity in our stores,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. “This store has no affiliation with the OCSA and is not a member of our organization. While we are very disappointed to see this happening in any convenience store, we are pleased that the RCMP took appropriate action in stopping this illegal activity.”
The OCSA has taken a strong stance on the sale of contraband tobacco, actively encouraging the provincial government to continue its fight against this illegal industry. Last year, city councilors in Windsor supported the OCSA’s efforts on contraband tobacco by passing a motion, encouraging the provincial government to adopt budget commitments aimed at tackling this illegal industry.
“Our retailers are told from day one buying contraband is against the law, and that participating in the illegal tobacco trade supports organized crime,” said Bryans. “Certainly, this one store isn’t representative of others in Windsor.”
Through retailer training programs, age verification and communication on the dangers of contraband tobacco, the OCSA is doing its part inform retailers that it is never ok to purchase or sell illegal tobacco products.
“Contraband tobacco poses a serious threat to community safety, and the OCSA will always stand alongside both government and law enforcement to ensure that this illegal activity is not taking place in our stores,” said Bryans.
OCSA also recently completed a contraband tobacco awareness campaign throughout Ontario’s convenience stores, which saw hundreds of residents sign letters encouraging further government action on contraband tobacco.
The campaign featured an interactive tablet that allowed customers to send a letter to Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa and Premier Kathleen Wynne directly from the store.
The letter encouraged the Ontario Government to follow through on its 2013 commitments to fight contraband tobacco. It also discusses the future movement of the Cornwall border and its potential impact on the contraband tobacco trade in the area. In total, over 3,200 customers participated in the campaign, with 410 agreeing to sign letters.
“This campaign is a way for our retailers to engage local customers about the perils of contraband tobacco. It is also a way to engage the provincial and federal governments to ensure they work together to provide adequate resources to ensure local public safety,” Bryans said.