More Support Needed in Next Budget
ETOBICOKE, ON, Nov. 20, 2023 /CNW/ - As the leading voice for independent convenience store owners in Ontario, the Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association (OKBA) acknowledges and appreciates recent actions taken by the Ontario government to help stem the flow of contraband tobacco across the province.
Licensed convenience store operators are pleased with the seizure of illegal products and meaningful charges and levies against contraband offenders, as detailed in recent Provincial Court Bulletins:
"It is encouraging to see specific legal actions being taken against traffickers, and we hope this is a precursor to a tougher stance on this issue. Since the contraband tobacco problem emerged more than a decade ago, we have lost close to 1000 members, many of whom have closed their businesses permanently due to unfair competition from illegal sources", said spokesperson Mr. Kenny Shim, OKBA President.
The OKBA has long been lobbying government to bring political and public awareness to the cigarette trafficking problem that continues to flourish while legal store owners pay the price. Most Ontarians are not aware that contraband tobacco hurts everyone, costing the provincial treasury an estimated $750 million in lost taxes every year. Contraband activities ignore effective government implemented anti-smoking regulations, including the restriction of sales to minors. According to police, many organized crime groups who profit from contraband tobacco also traffic illegal drugs, weapons, and can be involved in human trafficking.
On the legal side of Ontario's tobacco sales, licensed retailers follow all government mandates and pay taxes, and in return they expect the Ontario government to help communities stay safe, and law-abiding store owners stay in business, through increased anti-contraband police enforcement.
In anticipation of the 2024 budget, the OKBA looks forward to increased resource allocation to anti-contraband initiatives. This will not only support small business owners across Ontario but will also bolster the provincial treasury for the benefit of all Ontarians.
Added Shim, "After years of advocating against contraband tobacco, the OKBA sees these recent seizures and arrests as a positive sign, but more must be done. We will continue to encourage the Ontario government for increased resources for law enforcement to support anti-contraband initiatives as we move forward into 2024."
For more information, please visit www.saveourstores.ca
The OKBA represents over 900 C-store owner members across Ontario.
SOURCE Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association