Le Lézard
Subjects: PSF, AVO, CPG, MAT

Contraband tobacco fuels organized crime in Alberta and UCP government needs to act to protect community safety

EDMONTON, AB, March 2, 2023 /CNW/ - In response to the Provincial Budget delivered yesterday by Danielle Smith's government, Alberta's independent convenience retailers are pleased to see more investments being made to help municipalities fight organized crime and serious crime but believe more needs to be done to specifically address the serious problem of contraband tobacco in Alberta.

Budget 2023 injects funds to increase public security in Alberta communities, which is a welcome first step. Alberta's convenience retailers believe that there is a need to create a framework for increased penalties and better enforcement when it comes to preventing contraband tobacco from growing further in Alberta.

Contraband tobacco invites crime into our communities. Better enforcement and  increased collaboration between first responders and community partners will help Albertans feel safe in their communities and prevent organized crime from flourishing in our backyards.

Contraband tobacco represents a major tax loss for our province. There is a significant decline in projected tobacco tax revenue for 2022-23, from Alberta's budget projection of $760 million to $565 million, for a 78% performance rate for Alberta in tobacco tax revenue (second worst of any province since 2013).

This means that there is a potential $195 million lost in tobacco tax revenue. Recovering lost revenue could mean investing to make a real difference for Albertans through much-needed investments in healthcare, housing, and education.

During what Minister Toews called an affordability challenge that's been unprecedented in recent time, the government must prioritize addressing contraband tobacco to recoup this lost revenue, and help improve the lives of Albertans.

Contraband tobacco reduces revenue for business owners through legal sales. Lawful and legal convenience store owners should not have to compete with organized crime. Many small business owners are managing their businesses during this time of economic uncertainty. Illicit tobacco adds another complex layer to sustaining a small business in Alberta.

The Alberta Retailers Coalition (ARC) is an advocacy group with a mission to educate and raise awareness about the rapidly growing problem of contraband tobacco in Alberta.

For more information:  https://www.albertaretailerscoalition.ca/

SOURCE Alberta Retailers Coalition

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