Growing Concern Over Prospect of Four Winds Tobacco Factory in Alberta
EDMONTON, ALBERTA–(Oct. 7, 2015) – Alberta retailers are gravely concerned over the prospect of a Quebec-based Mohawk tobacco facility setting up show right in their own backyard.
Four Winds Tobacco is looking to set up shop in Brooks and have not ruled out supplying to reserves in Western Canada.
“The last thing this province needs is a tobacco factory increasing supply in Alberta and across the West,” says Andrew Klukas, President of the Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA). “We’ve seen this story before in Central Canada which led to a rise in illegal tobacco trafficking. The recent $5 per carton tobacco tax increase is apparently making Alberta a more attractive target market for illegal suppliers.”
Local retailers have every reason to be concerned. In 2014, contraband tobacco rates in the province were just under 10% across all sites surveyed.
With an increased supply comes the opportunity for product to be bought on reserve and distributed within communities. Often without the proper taxation or age verification that will keep it out of the hands of youth.
The Alberta government recently banned all flavoured tobacco products, including menthol, and there are over 35 menthol products available for purchase in smoke shacks in Ontario and Quebec.
“There is no guarantee these types of products won’t be produced right here in our province,” adds Doug Hartl, Alberta Board Member of the WCSA and former member of the RCMP. “I urge members of the Newell County Council to reject this proposal.”
In 2014 the WCSA commissioned a study that found almost 10% of cigarettes at tested sites were illegal. They will be releasing an updated study on October 15th and urge the provincial government to hold tobacco taxes and dedicate more resources to fight illegal tobacco in Alberta.