The owner of one of the last tobacco stores in Nova Scotia vows to fight a provincial law restricting the display of cigarettes.
Bob Gee, 64, and his family have run Mader's Tobacco Store in Kentville for more than 30 years. But he fears rules that came into force in December are forcing him to shut down.
"I believe in free enterprise and our rights and freedoms," he told CBC News on Thursday. "I've been put in an unfortunate position where our backs are against the wall."
Gee is flouting the regulations that require tobacco products to be displayed under the counter, part of Nova Scotia's larger strategy to lower smoking rates.
Tobacco is legal, his argument goes, so a store like Mader's should be allowed to show it off.
"Tobacco is my business," he said. "Can you imagine trying to operate your business when you couldn't show what you sell? Like a grocery store that had a dozen kinds of soup but you couldn't see the soup?"
A provincial health inspector stopped by the store last week and issued a warning. Gee said he urged the inspector to explain his concerns to his superiors, but he got a call Tuesday confirming the warning stands.
For a first offence, Gee could be fined up to $2,000. The amount increases for subsequent violations. Gee said he could even lose his operating licence for a period of time.
Gee said he's prepared to go to court, though he has not contacted a lawyer and hopes the matter can be resolved.
"We have nothing to lose and everything to gain," he said.