More contraband tobacco has been seized in Windsor, Ont., than anywhere else in the province, according to the Ontario Convenience Stores Association and RCMP.
Earlier in the week, the RCMP seized 114 cartons of tobacco in a bust. Two people were arrested. It was the fifth bust in Windsor in 2012. No other city in Ontario can match that.
Ontario leads the world with the sale of illegal cigarettes, according to the association.
Dave Bryans, the CEO of the convenience stores association, said two convenience stores close each day in Ontario. He partially blames the illegal cigarette market.
'It will continue to put stores out of business.' — Dave Bryans, convenience stores association
He called contraband tobacco a "scourge of every community."
Bryans said illegal smokes cost $3 per pack and $10 per cartoon while legal smokes cost $9 per pack and $80 per carton.
Bryans alleged that 35 per cent of cigarettes smoked in Ontario are illegal.
"If contraband tobacco goes unchecked, it will continue to put stores out of business," Bryans said. "That's a huge concern because there are convenience stores located in every town, city and village."
Terry Yaldo, owner of Midway Convenience in Windsor, said when a bust happens, business at convenience stores increases.
"It makes a big impact on our store because the person smoking a cigarette still needs a cigarette," Yaldo said. "When they're not buying illegal cigarettes, it helps a small store like mine - a family-owned store - survive."
Windsor's public safety committee is backing convenience stores. The committee met Wednesday and passed a motion to ask Queen's Park to put a stop the sale of illegal tobacco.
The committee calls on the government to implement stricter regulations to eradicate contraband tobacco. One suggestion is to increase fines.
Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac said legitimate businesses can't compete.
"You can pick up a baggie of 25 cigarettes for $3 if they're illegal but if you go to the convenience store they're $10-$35. We have a number of small businesses in the city of Windsor - convenience store operators - that are challenged trying to keep their heads above water," she said.
The full city council still has to approve the motion before it's sent to the Ontario government.