VANCOUVER, BC, March 21, 2023 /CNW/ – BC’s convenience store owners are highlighting the increase of crime in B.C. communities and asking Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to speak up about what the government is doing to address this major public safety issue in BC.
A recent vehicle stop in Kamloops demonstrates clearly why contraband tobacco needs to be addressed in the province. Often, contraband goes hand in hand with other serious and life threatening drugs and criminal activity.
A news release from Kamloops RCMP dated March 7, 2023:
Feb. 22, 2023, just before 4 a.m., a Kamloops RCMP frontline officer was in the area of 9th Avenue and St. Paul Street when she observed a silver SUV run a stop sign and continue to drive in a suspicious manner. The officer conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle on the 900-block of Seymour Street.
As the officer approached the SUV, a man exited the passenger side who was recognized as having an arrest warrant, said Corporal Crystal Evelyn, Kamloops RCMP spokesperson. The man was arrested and as part of an officer safety search, a bag of suspected fentanyl was located on him, which exceeded the current 2.5-gram exemption.
Contraband cigarettes were also observed inside the SUV, leading to a woman being detained under the Excise Act and a subsequent search occurred as part of that investigation. More than one pound of suspected methamphetamine, additional quantities of crack and cocaine, and various forms of ammunition were also located and seized.
The Retailers Alliance 4 Safe Communities (RA4SC) is calling on Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to publicly acknowledge this is a serious issue that is top of mind for the Government of British Columbia and urgently establish a Contraband Tobacco Prevention Taskforce.
“We believe a Contraband Prevention Task Force is the first step in addressing the buying and selling of illicit tobacco in our province and finding a way together to implement stronger enforcement and penalties for those that break the law.” – RA4SC
The Okanagan has been named a hot spot for the buying and selling of contraband tobacco and we know contraband tobacco invites criminal activity into our province and fosters a breeding ground for other dangerous activity such as the trafficking of drugs, humans, and weapons.
- Loss of sales: Every year, lawful and licensed convenient store owners lose out on millions in revenue due to the prevalence of illegal tobacco sales.
- Loss of tax revenue: Illicit trade robs British Columbians of millions of dollars in provincial tax revenue that support B.C. social programs.
- Harming small business: Convenience store retailers in B.C. are suffering due to the inability to compete with organized crime groups.
- Stronger enforcement and policies needed: Better policies are required to stop contraband tobacco from further devastating convenience retailers and B.C. communities.
- B.C.’s inaction: Other provinces have acted to address the issue of contraband tobacco. It is time the B.C. government act to protect consumers, stores owners, and the safety of our communities.
The Convenience Retailers Alliance 4 Safe Communities is an advocacy group calling for action against contraband tobacco in British Columbia.
SOURCE Convenience Retailers Alliance