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Budget updates…


New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have tabled provincial budgets for the upcoming year. A date for a provincial budget in Prince Edward Island won’t be known until after the April 23rd provincial election, and a date for Newfoundland and Labrador’s budget is also unknown, but the government says it will be before the end of April.


First off was New Brunswick. The Progressive Conservative government led by Blaine Higgs tabled a balanced budget and a forecast which, according to a government media release, “would see the province’s net debt decrease for the first time in more than a decade.” No tax increases were introduced for tobacco or fuel.  


Nova Scotia’s budget was largely focused on health care. And if the numbers are achieved, the budget will be the fourth consecutive balanced plan by the Liberal government. No tobacco tax increases were introduced, and the government is actually forecasting a decline in tobacco tax revenue over the 2020 fiscal year. As in New Brunswick there were also no increases in fuel taxes.

“Well these are certainly status quo budgets for the c-store industry,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association. “Increasing taxes is not the way to reduce tobacco use and it looks like the two provinces were leery of messing with fuel taxes when consumers were going to take a hit at the pumps with the launch of the federal carbon tax at the beginning of April.”


In addition to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia budgets, the federal government tabled its 2020 budget on March 20. Much of the budget coverage has been lost to the SNC-Lavalin affair, but no measures critically impacting the c-store industry were in the budget.


Janet MacLeod elected as new Atlantic Convenience Stores Association chair




Mike Hammoud, president of the ASCA, has announced that Janet MacLeod has been elected as the new chair of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association.


Janet is senior Merchandise and Marketing manager at Wilson Fuel Company Ltd. and has worked in the convenience store business for more than 26 years. Headquartered in Halifax, Janet manages the Go!Store brand at 77 convenience stores that Wilson’s owns and operates.


“Janet has been a volunteer on the ACSA board from the very beginning back in 2009,” says Hammoud. “She is very well respected by store managers, government, industry colleagues and all other people she has contact with and she is a great asset to have as chair of the ACSA.”


New Brunswick launches retail and wholesale gasoline margin review


The New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board is in the process of undertaking a review of the provincial retail and whole gasoline margins. It is believed that a review report has been prepared and submitted to the board by consultants Gardner-Pinfold and the industry is now waiting on the NBEUB to release the report and set dates for a public hearing.


"We certainly think that a margin increase is warranted since the last adjustment came into effect in May of 2017," says ACSA president Mike Hammoud. "And that adjustment was based on data up to the end of 2015. It’s frustrating that we’re always playing catch-up.”


According to Hammoud the current review still leaves the industry playing catch-up since it covers data up to the end of 2017 and a board decision likely won’t be made until late summer at the earliest.

Prince Edward Island’s IRAC plays hardball with industry’s retail margin adjustment request


With retail gasoline margins in PE being unchanged since 2012, Island retailers have been beating their heads against the wall to get some traction on a margin adjustment request made to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.


After sitting on a submission from Island retailers for two years, IRAC embarked on its own review in early January by sending a survey to a select number of retailers. However, according to IRAC they were disappointed with the low response and suggested in March that they may not proceed with the review if industry was not interested in participating. But they wouldn’t share the names of the retailers selected for the survey so the industry could follow up and encourage survey participation.


At this point in time IRAC has said that they will attempt to collect more surveys but have given no indication of timing or how serious their threat is to shut down the review.

“It’s a bit of a heavy-handed approach in our opinion,” says ACSA president Mike Hammoud. “It’s not that retailers don’t care about the margins. It’s the simple fact that retailers are so busy running their businesses to take time to pull together financial data, or to pay an accountant to do it.


According to Hammoud, the ACSA has maintained for a long time that energy boards need to move away from surveying as the basis for margin reviews and develop an operating model that can be updated relatively easily.


Election round-up


Prince Edward Island

PEI has a provincial election on April 23. The Greens are attempting to convert strong showings in lead-up polls into seats in the House, while the PCs are trying to jump-start the party’s future with a new leader. In the meantime, the Liberals are working hard to win a fourth term, which is something that rarely happens in PE provincial politics.


Newfoundland and Labrador

Premier Dwight Ball says that voters will go the polls for a provincial election before the end of June. Ball’s Liberal government is hoping that they’ll hit a re-election home run with the announcement of a renewed Atlantic Accord agreement on offshore resource revenues that will see the federal government give the province $2.5-billion over 38 years. It’s a lifeline from the feds after the provincial government has been drowning in debt for the past 5-years from a slide in oil prices.


Nova Scotia

The governing Liberals are in their second term and safe for some time with the next election likely in 2021. The government has just tabled their 2020 budget which forecasts a balanced budget and healthy surplus.


New Brunswick

Premier Blaine Higgs’ PCs tabled their first budget since gaining control of government in September when the People’s Alliance agreed to support the PCs. Higgs says that there’s a four-year deal, but the People’s Alliance say that it’s a bill-by-bill situation. Either way, Higgs will have to be nimble to keep his coalition in place and avoid an election anytime soon.  

Federal carbon tax whacks Atlantic Canada prices at the pump


The federal government’s carbon tax kicked in on April 1st. While Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had individual carbon pricing systems they met federal standards and New Brunswick had a tax imposed on them the result was the same…gas prices went up throughout the region.


The carbon tax bumped gasoline prices at the pump by 4.42-cents per litre in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador and 4.4-cents in Prince Edward Island. A temporary reprieve in PE’s provincial gas tax introduced earlier in the year was negated with the introduction of the carbon tax. 


The hurt for drivers got worse as HST is charged on the carbon tax.


Nova Scotia’s gas prices remained relatively stable because of the provincial government’s own carbon pricing scheme which is expected to take more of a toll on industrial greenhouse gas emitters than consumers. That didn’t help drivers much, however, when the pricing regulator unexpectedly increased gasoline 3.7-cents (using the Halifax zone) at the end of the week.

“We all recognize the need to reduce our carbon footprint, but what we have is a real mish-mash of carbon pricing systems,” says ACSA president Mike Hammoud. “And it’s scary to think that the carbon tax itself in New Brunswick could drive up gas prices another 6.6-cents by 2022.

Up until now we’ve had reasonable competitive parity on gasoline prices between Maritime provinces. But this carbon tax has upset the apple cart and we really need to be careful that our retailers don’t get side-swiped by large provincial differences in pricing.”


ACSA welcomes two new supplier associate members


ACSA president Mike Hammoud has announced that Golden Gate Inc. and Sona Pay have joined the association as new associate members.




Golden Gate carries more than 1,000 products including smoking accessories (rolling papers and wraps, pipe screens, scales, baggies, vials, stash cans, ashtrays, cigarette cases, cigarette rolling machines, cigarette filters, lighters, butane, Zippo flints and wicks, cleaning solutions, water pipes, hand pipes, hookah, shisha flavours, e-cigarette juice); Nag Champa and Hem incense sticks; all kinds of houseware products; phone accessories, novelty products and much more.


“Our new product lines can increase store revenues by opening doors to a new demographic of customers,” says Jad Nasser, sales area manager for Golden Gate. “Since new legislation has been implemented our customers have seen a drastic increase in sales. C-stores can be a big part of this growth with competitive pricing and great quality.”


Golden Gate’s program for ACSA members includes special pricing and discounts, free shipping across Canada, barcoded products suitable for most POS systems, and rebates. Some conditions apply.


Golden Gate is planning an introductory tour through Atlantic Canada in the near future. If you’d like more information on the company and their products, contact Mike Hammoud at the ACSA ([email protected]

 902.880.9733).




Headquartered in Nova Scotia, Sona Pay markets cutting-edge point-of-sale technology that makes business and ecommerce transactions faster, easier and more reliable with no cancellation fees, no hidden costs and consistent pricing. Sona Pay’s systems are powered by First Data, one of North America’s largest credit card processing and payment solutions companies.

ACSA members receive special group pricing for Sona Pay services. For more information, contact Mike Hammoud at the ACSA.


ACSA new retail member profile




Magasin Général Landry 2003 Ltée is owned and operated by Bertrand and Marie- France Landry. The station is located in the scenic area of Point Landry, Northern New Brunswick close to the Gaspe region.


Magasin Général Landry has been a fixture in the community since the 1800’s and became an Esso brand retailer in 1914.


The store is the site of the office of the former community lumber mill. It is at the heart of the community and it is a true general store that offers products and services the community needs.  Welcome Bertrand, Marie-France and team. We look forward to you being active participants in the ACSA!


Mark these dates on your calendar…


June 6

Annual Maritimes Golf Classic at Fox Creek Golf Club, Dieppe, New Brunswick


September 12

Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Charity Golf Tourney at Colvelly, St. John's Newfoundland


October 22

Atlantic Convenience Expo at the Halifax Convention Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia.


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Local retailers mark Small Business Week by celebrating the growing success of National C-store DayTORONTO, ONTARIO (October 18, 2018) The Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) is proud to help celebrate Small Business Week in Canada by presenting a cheque for $130,000 to the Children’s Wish Foundation, which was raised during the recent national Convenience Store Day.August 29th was a record day as convenience stores across Canada celebrated this annual event, bringing over 250 commu

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National C-Store Day targeting $100K for children’s charityNational event takes place August 29th at convenience stores across CanadaBurlington, ON (July 10, 2018) – An annual community event, Convenience Store Day is scheduled for August 29th, 2018. Since 2012, C-Store Day has celebrated the contributions that convenience stores make to their communities, while helping to raise money for charity.In 2017, more than 190 community leaders worked along-side convenience store owners, helping to

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Industry association says Islanders support selling beer and wine in convenience stores[Halifax, Nova Scotia] Two-thirds of adult Islanders participating in a provincial survey expressed support for retailing beer and wine in convenience stores (strongly support, support, somewhat support).The research was commissioned by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association and conducted independently by MQO Research in June, 2017. Results are accurate within plus or minus five percentage points 19 times

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[Halifax, Nova Scotia] Nearly two-thirds of adult Nova Scotians participating in a provincial survey expressed support for retailing beer and wine in convenience stores (strongly support, support, somewhat support).The research was commissioned by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association and conducted independently by MQO Research in June, 2017.Results are accurate within plus or minus five percentage points 19 times out of 20. Among survey participants who had purchased wine or beer in the l

29th June 2018

acsa newsletter – march 2018

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Mixed reviews on 2018 federal budget from Atlantic c-store retailersThe upside of more support for small business in the federal government’s February budget was offset by higher excise taxes on tobacco says Mike Hammoud, president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association.“We’re certainly optimistic about the federal government’s commitment to reducing red tape, and the clearer rules around the tax treatment of passive income in private corporations,” says Hammoud. “On the othe

29th March 2018

convenience stores raise $130,000 for children’s wish foundation - press release

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CCSA rolls out 7th annual Convenience Store DayOrganizers targeting $100,000 for children’s charityThe second annual national Convenience Store Day and seventh annual event is scheduled for August 29, 2018. Convenience Store Day, or C-Store Day, recognizes the contributions that convenience stores make to their communities, while helping to raise money for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.In 2017, more than 190 community leaders worked along-side convenience store owners and staff, h

22nd February 2018

nb pharmacists cracking down

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N.B. pharmacists in conflict-of-interest in crackdown on sales of over-the-counter medications.Decades old regulations that have never been enforced give pharmacists opportunity to eliminate competition for pharmacies.HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA (February 22, 2018) New Brunswick pharmacists are in a conflict-of-interest and benefiting from the elimination of competition says the association representing convenience store retailers in New Brunswick.The issue arose when the New Brunswick College of Pharm

13th November 2017

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Crime bust reinforces organized crime’s involvement in contraband tobacco tradeA major crime bust in Ontario in early November highlighted just how active organized crime is in illegal activitiesThe bust came about through the ability of the RCMP-led Greater Toronto Area Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit to infiltrate organized crime networks. As a result of the investigation, numerous drug, weapons and contraband tobacco trafficking charges were laid along with a number of seizures tha

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27th March 2017

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Nova Scotia commits to further red tape reductionIn support of the provincial government’s red tape reduction efforts, Service Nova Scotia has created three new Business Navigator positions. These new staff will assist both new and existing businesses in navigating what the government admits can be “a daunting and complex regulatory environment.”Atlantic premiers commit to additional regional regulatory efficiency initiativesIn late February, Atlantic Canada’s four premiers committed to

22nd October 2016

cracking down on illegal cigarette sales is good for government coffers and preventing youth smoking

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A third annual study of illegal cigarette consumption in Newfoundland continues to show unacceptably high levels of criminal activity says a spokesperson for the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, who commissioned the research.“The latest research indicates that the prevalence of illegal cigarettes in Newfoundland is likely something in the range of 15 per cent,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the association. “That’s a lot of illegal sales and it’s costing the provincial govern

22nd September 2016

convenience store retailers support crackdown on illegal tobacco sales in new brunswick

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New Brunswick convenience store retailers are supporting a crackdown on illegal tobacco sales in the province in a new partnership between the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association and New Brunswick Crime Stoppers. The partnership announcement was made at the same time the association released a new study showing that illegal cigarette sales in the province remain high.“The provincial government’s new Contraband Enforcement Unit is on the right track and is starting to make an impact, but

30th August 2016

illegal cigarette sales in nova scotia too high

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Convenience store retailers in Nova Scotia say that the illegal sale of tobacco products undermines the health, safety and well-being of communities, and that illegal sales in the province are too high.In a study released by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, illegal cigarettes accounted for 20 per cent of almost 4,000 cigarette ends collected from 29 sites across Nova Scotia in June and analyzed. The presence of illegal cigarettes ranged from 6.5 per cent to 33.8 per cent at the sites

13th August 2016

retailers not celebrating 10 years of gasoline regulation

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It was ten years ago that the then government of Bernard Lord legislated petroleum price regulation in New Brunswick. Fast forward to a milestone anniversary of regulation this week and some pundits are celebrating its “success” and how consumers have benefited from lower gas prices.Well, gasoline retailers in the province aren’t celebrating. And while the sky may not have fallen as critics of regulation were warning 10 years ago, the economic picture is far from rosy.Most consumers don’

22nd April 2016

atlantic c-store news april 2016

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Budget updates…All of the Atlantic provincial budgets have been tabled. It’s tough times fiscally for all of the provinces and there’s a mix of good news and not so good news for the c-store industry coming from the budgets.First off was New Brunswick. The good news is that the government announced that it was going ahead with the creation of a dedicated Contraband Enforcement Unit to crack down on the illegal tobacco trade in the province. Bad news is that the tobacco tax was raised immed

20th December 2015

atlantic c-store news december 2015

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Retail excellence honoured at the 2015 Retail Convenience Awards GalaAtlantic Canada’s convenience store industry recognized industry excellence at the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association’s 7th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala held at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax in early November.Sponsored by Atlantic Lottery Corporation, the awards recognize excellence in six categories: President’s Excellence, Emerging Excellence, Innovative Beverage, Innovative Food, Innovative Product, and I

5th November 2015

best in atlantic canada’s convenience store industry celebrated

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Halifax, November 5, 2015: Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry recognized industry excellence at the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association’s 7th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala held at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax last night.The convenience store industry in Atlantic Canada employs an estimated 28,300 people full and part-time at 3,300 convenience store locations across the region, and generates more than a half-billion dollars in annual sales.Sponsored by Atlantic Lottery

29th October 2015

more than 20 per cent of cigarette butts found at four ns high schools illegal product

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HALIFAX, October 29, 2015: A new study released by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association found that illegal cigarettes accounted for 22.5 per cent of the samples of cigarette ends collected at popular smoking areas near four Nova Scotia high schools.“The provincial government banned flavoured tobacco because they were concerned about underage smokers,” says Warren Maynard, of CST Ultramar, of Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Yet, it appears the problem of organized crime targeting underage you

6th October 2015

is the provincial government losing millions in tobacco taxes to illegal cigarette sales

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New study shows illegal cigarette sales should be a concern to everyoneSt. John’s, NL [October 6, 2015]: New research commissioned by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association shows that illegal cigarettes could account for more than 10 per cent of all cigarettes smoked in Newfoundland.“This is the second year that we’ve studied the prevalence of illegal cigarettes in Newfoundland and both studies indicate that it’s likely more than 10 per cent,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the a

15th September 2015

acsa – september 2015 newsletter

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Atlantic c-stores recognized as important part of communityOn August 26, the ACSA held its fourth annual Convenience Store Day in the four Atlantic provinces. As part of the annual event, more than 125 community leaders and politicians volunteered for 20-minute shifts at 49 plus convenience stores throughout the region, raising money for local charity.  This year’s event raised over $50,000 for Crime Stoppers Nova Scotia and Children’s Wish Foundation NFLD, NB, NS and PEI.Much of the ne

21st August 2015

illegal cigarette sales in new brunswick remain high

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Presence of illegal cigarettes at 11 high schools tested averages 26 percentNew Brunswickers are busy buying illegal cigarettes according to research findings released today by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association.Illegal cigarettes accounted for 24 percent of almost 4,000 cigarette ends collected from 27 sites across New Brunswick in late May/early June and analyzed. The presence of illegal cigarettes averaged 26 percent at 11 high school sites tested.Overall findings are considered to b

7th May 2015

gas pump climate change warning labels

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The ACSA submitted the following letter to Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc in response to their recent resolution to encourage the use of point-of-sale gas pump climate change warning labels.May 7, 2015Mayor George LeBlancCity of Moncton655 Main StreetMoncton, NB E1C 1E8Via email: [email protected]: Gas pump climate change warning labelsDear Mayor LeBlanc:The Atlantic Convenience Stores Association is a not-for-profit organization representing the business interests of Atlantic

26th April 2015

n.s. government’s flavoured tobacco ban an attack on small business owners

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Barely two weeks’ notice before major ban takes effectHALIFAX [May 26, 2015] – Hundreds of hard working convenience store owners across the province will suffer significant losses at the hand of the provincial government due to its hostile approach to new legislation.Giving convenience store owners only 14 days to clear inventory before a major flavoured tobacco ban takes effect at the end of May amounts to an extreme penalty against small business owners by a government trying to score

22nd April 2015

nova scotia flavoured tobacco ban start date unreasonable, costly to industry

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40 days simply not long enough to clear wholesale and retail productHALIFAX – [April 22, 2015]: The timing of plans by the Government of Nova Scotia to ban most flavoured tobacco products starting May 31st is unreasonable say convenience store retailers.“I have flavoured tobacco inventory that will take at least six months to clear,” says Tony Diab, a Dartmouth convenience store owner. “That’s the way the business works. The government wants to start its ban in 40 days. That’s going

16th March 2015

acsa extremely disappointed with nova scotia tobacco access act amendments

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The Nova Scotia government has tabled amendments to the Tobacco Access Act that will ban almost all flavoured tobacco products. Mike Hammoud, president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, says that there is no basis in reality for doing this.“The big issue was the candy-flavoured tobacco products that were clearly targeting minors,” says Hammoud. “But then they take a sledgehammer to the issue and ban virtually everything that is flavoured, including menthol.”“There is no e

23rd January 2015

retailer profile: margie boone

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Margie Boone has been a part of the convenience store industry all her life, beginning at the young age of 13 working in small mom & pop shops. Over the last five decades, Margie has steadily advanced her career to taking on management of various Ultramar sites. These days Margie can be found managing Kenmount Corner Store in St. John’s, Newfoundland.What is Margie’s secret to a successful and happy career in the convenience store industry?“It’s the people” says Margie. “One of t

20th November 2014

atlantic c-store news – november 2014

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Atlantic Retailers Participate in National Lobby DayAtlantic retailers including: Ramona Roberts, Terry Moore, Warren Maynard, Craig Pardy, Dennis Kim and Nick Pitre joined retailers from across Canada in Ottawa on September 16 as part of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association’s National Lobby Day. The retailers met with their regional members of parliament from all parties to create awareness of issues impacting the c-store industry.The Atlantic retailers were consistent in their messagi

6th November 2014

best in atlantic canada’s convenience store industry celebrated at 2014 retail convenience award

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Best in Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry celebrated at 2014 Retail Convenience Awards[Halifax, November 6, 2014] Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry recognized industry excellence at the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association’s 6th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala held at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax last night. The convenience store industry in Atlantic Canada employs an estimated 25,900 people full- and part-time at 3,012 convenience store locations across the

10th April 2014

atlantic c-store news – april 2014

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Holding the line on tobacco taxesFiscal 2014 – 2015 budgets have been tabled in the Atlantic provinces and the ACSA is pleased that three of the four provinces held the line on increasing tobacco taxes.“There is reliable evidence that increasing tobacco taxes without strengthening penalties for illegally selling tobacco has little effect on reducing smoking and increases black market demand for illegal smokes,” says ACSA president Mike Hammoud. “You’re just shifting demand underground

22nd January 2014

atlantic c-store news – january 2014

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ACSA gears up for pre-budget consultationsEach year, provincial finance ministers hold pre-budget consultations. The ACSA has always actively participated in this process, meeting personally with finance ministers, attending public consultation meetings, and submitting briefs.This year will be no different and the ACSA will be focusing on several issues, including: a) the negative impact of increasing tobacco taxes to try and increase government revenue; b) cracking down on contraband tobacco as