MLA: nothing can be done about cross-border shopping

Raissa Tetanish
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AMHERST - The MLA for Cumberland North says there's not a lot that can be done to alleviate concerns from local retailers losing customers to the lower taxes in the next province over.
Convenience store owner Mike LeBlanc made his concerns public over the last few weeks with a sign posted outside his South Albion Street business. The sign thanked the Nova Scotia government for the high taxes, signed New Brunswick retailers.
MLA Brian Skabar says little can be done to stop cross-border shopping.
"There's no real way to stop cross-border shopping for things like cigarettes like there is in fuel," Skabar said, noting that the gas issue was one of his platform commitments during his election campaign.
"Customers will get one tank worth of fuel at one time, so it does make business sense to make that change in the border towns. For people that are going to be buying cigarettes, they'll travel 40 or 50 kilometres and get as many as they can afford at any given time."
LeBlanc voiced his concerns about losing a quarter of his customers since the price of tobacco increased by $10 per carton. The price increase was introduced by the previous Conservative government and put into effect by the now NDP government.
"People that smoke are going to smoke regardless of the negative effects on their health, but by the same token, (raising taxes on cigarettes) has been a policy of the previous government and it's been a policy of our government as well," Skabar said.
The rise in tobacco tax, says Skabar, will generate close to $21 million in revenue in 2009-10.
"That's going to fund other programs and services that Nova Scotians need."
The issue on the gas prices in border towns such as Amherst is now in front of the Utility Review Board.
rtetanish@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Utility Review Board

Geographic location: AMHERST, Cumberland North, South Albion Street Nova Scotia New Brunswick

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Recent comments

  • Moriarty
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    At least he shoots straight about it, you may not like his answer, but he's honest.

    It's better than years of Tory/Independent empty promises to solve every problem under the sun.

    This is a new way of doing politics in Cumberland (and the whole province), and we like what we see so far.

  • Mandy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    So long as the government has their hands in the pot they don't care who it affects along the way. They govt has made a profit off smokers forever and will continue regardless of the health risks. They keep hiking the price up knowing these people are addicted to the product and knowing they will pay for it. They charge people caught with illegal cigarettes more then they would a drug dealer selling drugs to children. Last time I checked it was drugs that were illegal but these drug dealers are getting a slap on the hand in comparison to someone who smokes and resorts to a cheaper way out as the govt has made it impossible for a smoker to afford to smoke anymore.
    Perhaps if they gave smokers a tax break there wouldn't be so much illegal activity going on and they could focus their attention to getting the illegal drugs off the street. People aren't killing for cigarettes as they are for drugs. You don't see smokers standing around school yards trying to influence our children. Priorities...oh yea I forgot, it is all about the dollar.

  • R G
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    One thing can be done

    An Atlantic Accord on taxes

    Have one tax structure for all Atlantic Provinces, and perhaps one tax department even.

  • JS
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    He's not shooting straight about it at all. The cigarette issue is exactly the same as the gas issue.

    We drive across the border to get a tank of gas. But we also drive across the border to pick up 2 packs of smokes. Reason? You save more on 2 packs of smokes than a tank of gas in New Brunswick. It's not 40 or 50 kilometers, the Big Stop charges at least $2.50 less than Amherst for a single pack of cigarettes, it's a 3 minute drive.

    Sounds to me like he hasn't done his research. It's exactly like the gas situation - which, by the way, hasn't changed either - today I filled up in Aulac for 95.4 a litre, coming back I noticed it was 102.2 here. Oh yeah, I picked up 2 packs of smokes for $16 too, which would have been $21 here.

  • Philipe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    It's like he's telling us to cross the border and buy our smokes. What's next? Driving across the border to buy liquor and onions? Where were all that contraband smokes we used to get in ttown? Bringg that back!

  • Percy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Maybe it's a sign of a novice politician being in place, but still, it is refreshing to see one admit the truth, that basically there's nothing that can be done to stop people from crossing the border for cheaper prices, that they are going to smoke regardless, etc. It's nice not to have to hear someone pussyfoot around it and say that *we are going to studies, we are looking into it, we are moving forward to see why the trend continues to see shoppers go to NB, yadda yadda, yadda,* and then nothing is done. At least we know where we stand right up front

  • Steve
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Thankfully I do not smoke. But I would encourage anyone who does to look into growing and curing your own tobacco products. As far as I can tell it is still legal (in the since that you do not trade in it) and not only can you stick it to the the tax man but you're guaranteed a pure unadulterated product, unlike the smokes on the shelf.
    Something to think about IMHO