Canadian c-stores are fighting back against illegal cigarette dealers with help from a new Website launched by the Western Convenience Store Association (WCSA).
WCSA is encouraging convenience store retailers in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada to use the Website —www.notlegal.ca— to report illegal cigarette sales.
“Illegal cigarettes are a serious danger to both communities and individuals,” said Andrew Klukas, president of the Western Convenience Stores Association. “We have created notlegal.ca as a real-time tool to allow both our convenience store members and the general public to report this criminal activity.”
Illegal tobacco, often referred to as contraband tobacco, includes products that do not comply with Canada’s tobacco regulations—specifically those regarding importation, stamping, manufacturing, distribution, labeling and taxation. Illegal cigarettes are readily accessible to youth at reduced prices and are sold without age verification. The contraband tobacco market is largely driven by criminal groups from Ontario and Quebec.
“This initiative is part of our continuing work to help build safe communities across the west,” said Klukas. “The Website notlegal.ca is another way we can help local police and provincial governments make new inroads in their fight against contraband tobacco.”
The information provided to the site will remain confidential and will be shared only with law enforcement officials.
Convenience store employees are trained not to sell cigarettes to minors. Illegal tobacco sales undermine efforts to reduce youth consumption through existing convenience store programs such as the We Expect ID age verification program.
The WCSA applauds the work of law enforcement groups such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Manitoba Finance Taxation Special Investigations Unit in their efforts to stop the trade of illegal tobacco.
Western Canada’s Convenience Store Industry includes over 7,000 convenience stores employing more than 50,000 people. Over $10 billion in annual store sales generate more than $1 billion in tax revenue in Western Canada.