Barely two weeks’ notice before major ban takes effect
HALIFAX [May 26, 2015] – Hundreds of hard working convenience store owners across the province will suffer significant losses at the hand of the provincial government due to its hostile approach to new legislation.
Giving convenience store owners only 14 days to clear inventory before a major flavoured tobacco ban takes effect at the end of May amounts to an extreme penalty against small business owners by a government trying to score public relations points, says the head of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association (ACSA).
“The provincial government was adamant that the Bill 90 flavoured tobacco ban would take effect on May 31 just because that lined up with the World Health Organization’s No Tobacco Day,” said ACSA President Mike Hammoud. “They should be thinking less about public relations and more about the hard-working business people of Nova Scotia.” A number of organisations such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Manufacturers Association, and the National Convenience Stores Distributors Association have written the government about its poor timing.
Even worse is the reality that Nova Scotia convenience store owners, small business people who work hard to support their families, will be further penalized when the government’s ban, which includes menthol cigarettes, drives more sales out of their stores and into the illegal contraband market.
“Bill 90 will drive more smokers to the illegal market. There are more than 30 brands of illegally produced menthol already available. If you are a producer of illegal menthol – you just got an exclusive market here in Nova Scotia thanks to this government decision,” said Tony Diab, a Dartmouth retailer who has been one of many small business owners unhappy with the process and the timelines.
Diab said the Government of Nova Scotia needs to immediately re-evaluate the timelines for Bill 90, ensuring retailers have time to deplete their inventories of legally acquired products and adapt.
Bill 90, a bill to ban most flavoured tobacco products sold in Nova Scotia, was tabled by Health and Wellness minister Leo Glavine on April 17 and received Royal Assent on May 11. With hundreds of thousands of dollars of inventory on-hand and on-order, wholesalers and retailers of flavoured tobacco argued that a May 31 start date for the ban was highly unusual and unreasonable without an adequate phase-out period.
“The provincial government gave electronic cigarette retailers six months to hide retail displays when Bill 60 was passed in the fall to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to adults,” says Mike Hammoud.