OCSA Convenience Connect

2015 Volume 6

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Included in this newsletter you will find...

  • Important information regarding Bill 45 (effective January)
  • Results from the 2015 Butt Study
  • OCSA statements about contraband, Bill 139 and more...
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Bill 45 will Impact the Sale of E-cigarettes and Vapour - Jan 1, 2016

The OCSA held a meeting with the Ministry of Health and Wellness last week to clarify areas of concern under Bill 45. Set to take effect Jan. 1, 2016, Bill 45 will impact the sale of e-cigarettes and vapour.


Effective Jan. 1, 2016 all tobacco products with flavours will be banned with the exception of menthol, flavoured pipe tobaccos, clove cigarettes and certain flavoured cigars.


There will be no extension on the sale of all banned products but the OCSA has asked the 36 Public Health Units to allow for these banned products to be bagged or boxed up for return to the distributor or manufacturer and stored in the back rooms until they are picked up within a reasonable time during the month of January.


Menthol is allowed to be sold until Jan. 1, 2017 in all formats. For clarification purposes flavours such as mint and wintergreen etc. fall under the banned products list and are not considered a menthol product and therefore must be removed by year end.


I would encourage all stores to begin the review of products that must be removed from the shelves as of midnight December 31, 2015 and work with your local suppliers and local Health Unit on the handling and returns of these products.

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E-Cigarettes and Vapour Products

These products do not fall under the Smoke Free Act in Ontario (but are part of Bill 45) and will be reviewed in the spring of 2016 where regulations will be submitted with input from OCSA . For clarification please share the following:


A) E-cigarettes/vapour may be displayed on the counter (or anywhere else) in conveniencestores. Public Health Units will not be advising or condoning retailers for selling these products.


B) E-cigarettes come in two types of deliveries; non-nicotine (flavours) and nicotine (progressive levels of) and are exempt from any flavour bans at this time. Keep in mind e-cigarettes and nicotine products have not been approved by Health Canada and may be deemed illegal should Health Canada visit your store.


C) The 36 Public Health Units and tobacco enforcement officers will not interfere with the sale of e-cigarettes or vapour products as they don't fall under the Ontario Smoke Free Act.


D) All stores must age test for the sale of both e-cigarettes and vapour as of Jan. 1, 2016 with financial penalties for employees who fail to do so. There will be no exception to non-nicotine vs. nicotine products when it comes to age testing.


E) From an ownership position, employees selling e-cigarettes in a mystery shop will be subject to a fine and the business may as well, but since these products are not under the Smoke Free Act there is no automatic prohibition attached to the charges.


Please feel free to contact the OCSA office if you have any questions or concerns.


Dave Bryans
​OCSA President

Results From 2015 Butt Study Are In

From Oct.2-29, 2015, NIRIC anonymously collected cigarettes samples at 133 previously identified smoking locations in Ontario. In total, 19,947 samples were collected in the province, and while the results are not scientific, they are an important indicator of illegal tobacco presence and usage in Ontario.


The study found a large fluctuation in contraband rates across the province, noting a provincial average of 22%. The prevalence of contraband products is highest in Eastern and Northern Ontario.


Illicit tobacco remains a significant loss of tax revenue for the Ontario government as they aim to balance the budget by 2018. Retailers have asked that the government consider implementing a possession, purchase and tobacco consumption ban for youth.

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Pertinent OCSA Press Releases

Convenience Store Retailers Pleased with Contraband Enforcement Measures in Fall Economic Outlook


Ontario’s convenience store retailers are pleased with additional measures unveiled in the province’s Fall Economic Outlook aimed at preventing the growth of the contraband tobacco market in Ontario. They are also reminding the Ontario government that law-abiding convenience store retailers are not those responsible for the persistence of illegal tobacco throughout the province.

“The Ontario Convenience Store Association (OCSA) is pleased that Finance Minister Charles Sousa is taking steps to address this underground economy, which hurts the bottom lines of our small businesses and government revenues,” said OCSA president Dave Bryans. “Illegal tobacco continues to thrive in Ontario and we welcome any measures that may halt this criminal activity.”

The Economic Outlook commits to establishing a contraband tobacco enforcement team through the Ontario Provincial Police, as well as regulation of tobacco product components such as acetate tow. These measures build on those introduced earlier in 2015 to provide additional support for the OPP and regulate raw leaf tobacco.

The Economic Outlook also seeks to develop more cooperation between officials in the Ministry of Finance and local health units, which would allow either official to identify and seize illegal tobacco products found at retail locations. While the OCSA is pleased to see both groups working together, they are reminding the provincial government that their members are not the culprits behind the sale of contraband tobacco.

“Our Association does not condone the sale of illegal, untaxed tobacco products inconvenience stores, period” said Bryans. “While we support more enforcement to tackle this illegal trade, Ontarians and government decision-makers must know that our stores are not the source of this problem.”

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings and without age verification checks, to anyone who is willing to buy. The RCMP estimates that over 70 organized crime groups and gangs are affiliated with the illegal tobacco trade. Increased taxes and regulations drive the tobacco market underground, meaning these products are both more affordable and accessible to youth.

The OCSA will be sharing results from its most recent contraband tobacco survey in early December, and are hopeful that these measures, along with no changes to tobacco taxation or additional regulations, will correct the province’s illegal tobacco problems.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Ontario in correcting this important issue for our businesses and communities,” said Bryans.

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Convenience Store Retailers Welcome Measures in Bill 139 to Address Illegal Tobacco

Ontario’s convenience store retailers are welcoming a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Todd Smith (Prince Edward-Hastings) which seeks to address illegal tobacco through new measures for policing agencies and a public education campaign on the dangers of contraband.


“The Ontario Convenience Store Association (OCSA) is pleased with measures proposed in the Smoke-Free Schools Act that will increase penalties for those caught with illegal tobacco products” said OCSA president Dave Bryans. “Tax evasion through the purchase of contraband is a serious problem for our small businesses, and we are happy to see MPP Smith is keen to address this issue.”


In addition to increased fines for contraband tobacco offenders, the Smoke-Free Schools Act will also include a public education campaign on the dangers of tobacco consumption, including illegal tobacco. “Educating young people is critical to reducing the youth tobacco consumption rate even further, and we are happy to support this,” said Bryans.


The OCSA has been lobbying the provincial government to support an outright ban on the possession, purchase, and consumption of tobacco by youth. The penalties that would be associated with this would mirror those contained in the Ontario Liquor Control Act. In a public opinion survey conducted in January by the Association, 80% of Ontarians supported a potential ban on tobacco by youth.


“Our retailers are the best at age-testing on restricted products in the province,” said Bryans. “While we understand the instinct to further penalize legal retailers who sell to minors, compliance tests show that convenience stores are often not the source of tobacco for minors. We need to make smoking inaccessible and unappealing for young people entirely, and a ban on the possession, purchase and consumption of tobacco by youth would achieve this.”


The Association will be releasing its new contraband tobacco rates in Ontario at the beginning of December, which will include rates for many high schools across the province. “Contraband rates continue to remain alarmingly high at high-schools and hospitals in the province,” said Bryans. “We look forward to working with any decision-makers who would like to address this illegal activity and curb youth smoking.”

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About the OCSA

Representing over 7,500 stores located in Ontario, the OCSA is engaged on many issues affecting convenience store retailers, 50% of which are independent family stores.