Mustang Alley to phase out smokes by 2010

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Wall of cigarette cartons

Jon Purdy

Students could now have only two more years to purchase cigarettes from Mustang Alley, as the University Students’ Council debated the result of the recent plebiscite last night.

The debate stems from science councillor Fred Wu’s motion before council last November protesting the USC convenience store’s sale of cigarettes.

After lengthy deliberation before council, students voted on a plebiscite question during the USC general election.

The plebiscite revealed a clear majority of voters supported a ban on the sale of cigarettes at Mustang Alley with the pro-ban ‘No’ side receiving 58 per cent of the vote.

Though the results of the plebiscite were non-binding, the results of the vote were known over a month ago and a perceived lack of action by the USC Board of Directors prompted Wu to put forward a motion for an immediate cigarette ban before last night’s meeting.

“I don’t know why there was the wait,” Wu said.

However, the board has been working behind the scenes creating a plan to phase out the sale of cigarettes if council chooses to do so.

“We recognize the results of the plebiscite,” Amy Bi, communications officer for the USC, said. “It was never our intention not to listen to students ... [who do not agree] with the sale of cigarettes at Mustang Alley.

“With the plebiscite question itself, I think the answer we received from students shows us a lot about their opinion, but I still think it’s the Board of Directors’ responsibility to come up with the best solution and the best tactical plan for how to carry through with it.”

The USC’s plan calls for a removal of displays for all cigarette packages and cigarette print advertising from Mustang Alley in the 2008-09 fiscal year along with a halt to the renewal of any advertising partnerships with cigarette companies.

Next year, there will also be a task force assigned to refocus Mustang Alley’s sales strategy in order to ensure financial stability.

The next year will see an incremental reduction of the amount of cigarettes purchased and available for sale with a goal of a total halt of cigarette sales at the store by 2010.

One of the main concerns with a cigarette ban is the potential effect it could have on Mustang Alley’s student employees: “With this two-year plan our intention is to reduce the financial hit to Mustang Alley and that includes student jobs,” Bi assured.

Wu withdrew his motion prior to last night’s council meeting.

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