Consultation Promised Over On-Reserve Smoke Sales

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 14:54



A government spokesman says the province won’t approve anything related to tracking on-reserve cigarette sales without first consulting First Nations groups.


Mike Woods says a letter was sent to FSIN Chief Alphonse Bird last week informing him of the province’s plan to track on-reserve purchases of tobacco by status Indians through electronic monitoring.


The government wants to make sure it’s not paying out more PST rebates to reserve retailers than it should be.


The province may also impose quotas on how many cigarettes treaty Indians can buy on reserves.


Woods says, right now, they’ve asked reserve retailers to limit sales to three cartons of smokes per customer per week.


He says that’s being done on a voluntary basis, along with electronic monitoring in some reserve stores.


Woods says any across-the-board changes won’t happen until after the government consults with the FSIN, the bands and their retailers.


Woods says the province now pays close to $40 million in PST rebates to reserve retailers each year, when it used to be just $3 million.


Woods suspects that’s due mainly to the growth of urban reserves, but admits that the province wants to guard against inaccurate PST rebate reporting.