REGINA, SK--(Marketwired - November 02, 2016) - Saskatchewan convenience store retailers are praising the Government of Saskatchewan following the release of a study showing the province has the lowest rate of illegal tobacco in western Canada.

The Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA) commissioned a contraband tobacco study which examined discarded cigarette butts at 28 sites throughout Saskatchewan to determine if illegal (contraband) cigarettes were being purchased and smoked. Samples were gathered between September 29th and October 11th, 2016.

The average rate of illegal tobacco use at sites tested across Saskatchewan was 11.7%. In British Columbia the rate was 14.4%; in Manitoba the rate was 14.7%; and in Alberta it was 12.3%.

"Saskatchewan has a relatively low tobacco tax rate and it does not regulate flavoured tobacco," said Andrew Klukas, President of the Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA). "We believe these two factors keep the illegal tobacco rate lower in Saskatchewan than in other western provinces."

"We know from our work across the west that increasing tax rates and banning menthol products has opened the door to the black market," said Klukas. "Saskatchewan's clear regulatory, tax and enforcement frameworks are easy for retailers and consumers to understand. This simple approach makes buying illegal cigarettes less appealing."

Despite the low overall average, the rate of illegal tobacco in high schools in Saskatchewan is growing. The average rate of illegal tobacco found at the 11 high school sites samples was 8.2% -- up from 6.3% last year.

"Young smokers are more influenced by law enforcement and peer activity than regulation," said Klukas. "The best way to reduce smoking at school is through education, law enforcement efforts and a rigorous retailer training program to stop sales to minors like We Expect ID."

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings on packages and without age-verification checks. Poor economic conditions, increased taxes and unintended consequences of regulations drive the tobacco market underground, meaning these products are both more affordable and accessible to youth. According to the RCMP, illegal tobacco is also linked with organized crime, thereby impacting local safety.

"We must continue to be vigilant," said Klukas. "It's clear the illegal tobacco trade is growing across western Canada and Saskatchewan should consider fine-tuning their enforcement provisions."


The WCSA is a not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of over 1000 Saskatchewan convenience store retailers and gas stations. Saskatchewan retailers employ more than 9,500 people and annually contribute over $200 million in retail sales taxes to provincial revenues. Its mission is to foster the success of the convenience store industry in Western Canada by representing the best interests of its members and the communities they serve.

  Top Illegal Tobacco Sites in Saskatchewan 2015 (%) 2016 (%)
1 Confederation Mall, Saskatoon 9.4 23.1
2 Grosvenor Park Centre, Saskatoon 18.6 22.3
3 Casino Regina 12.4 21.3
4 Model T Bar and Grill, Saskatoon 15.8 21.2
5 Vangelis Tavern, Saskatoon 18.8 20.3
6 Michael A. Riffel High School, Regina 12.4 15.9
7 The OUTside Nightclub, Regina 22.2 15.9
8 Mosaic Stadium entry, Regina 6.4 13.9
9 Thom Collegiate, Regina 8.4 13.3
10 Taylor Field near 10th Ave, Regina 7.8 12.9

Contact Information:

Summa Strategies Canada
(613) 290-7870