Cigarette price increase controversial in Windsor
Convenience stores afraid increase in cigarette tax will lure smokers toward contraband
The owner of Midway Convenience on Wyandotte St. E. disagrees with the federal government's latest budget decision to increase cigarette prices.
Terry Yaldo thinks it will drive more people toward contraband consumption.
"The city has already seen a high number of contraband users," he said. "This is not going to help the government collect more taxes. It's going to cause more tax paying citizens to look at other alternatives."
But Robert Schwartz, the executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit at the University of Toronto, disagrees.
Schwartz maintains there's no proven link between an increase in tobacco taxes and increase in contraband tobacco.
In fact, he said it's more of a health issue, and expects the price increase to deter people from smoking.
"It's been a very long time since the last tax increase," he said. "We applaud this measure. We know taxes are the single most effective measure to decrease the use of tobacco."
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget raised taxes on a carton of 200 cigarettes from $17 to $21.03.
That works out to about 50 cents a pack.
However, Schwartz acknowledged contraband tobacco is a major problem in Ontario.
He estimates between 15 to 30 per cent of the market in the province consists of contraband.
Eighteen per cent of Ontarians smoke cigarettes.