Canadian tobacconist: sued if you do…

The facade of the Old Morris tobacco shop in Victoria, British Columbia, which has operated at its location for 120 years, “has been preserved in it’s [sic] original design, including signs noting the tobacco, house blends and Havana cigars within.” New provincial legislation prohibits tobacco-promoting signage where visible to youths; “Businesses who violate the act face a $575 fine for a first offense, with penalties rising up to $5,000 for repeat offences.” At the same time:

In a letter sent to [store owner Rick] Arora, Steve Barber, senior heritage planner with the City of Victoria, called the store’s signs “an integral part of the history of this building and part of it’s heritage character,” meaning Arora cannot remove or cover the signs.

“They’ve made it clear I can’t touch them,” Arora said. “I could be fined $1 million and go to jail for two years.”

Neither government agency “is budging” on its demands. (Tom Mcmillan, “Tobacco store owner caught between policies”, Canwest/Vancouver Sun, May 27). Update: compromise struck (thanks to reader ras in comments).


  • If there is anything that merits a $5000 fine for repeat offenses, it is a once-proud newspaper confusing “its” with “it’s.” Conrad Black would be rolling in his grave if he were dead.

  • An update:

    Excerpt: “City heritage planners met with the health authority and decided that antique signs advertising tobacco products at Old Morris Tobacconist, 116 Government St., can stay, though a large banner will have to be covered up.”

    I especially love the appellation, “heritage planners.”

    And the principle has been confirmed, sigh, that your private activities are now subject to yes/no approvals by the bureaucrats on a case by case basis.

  • both agencies should be forced to (at the least) provide written apologies to this man for the trouble they have caused

  • Experience has taught me that when a story tickles my “Outrage Nerve,” it usually has an “Easy Button” but for purposes of sensationalism, the reporters sometimes skip over that part. Is a variance not an option? I hope at the very least that this guy can figure out how to profit from this little boondoggle.