Store refuses to cover up tobacco wall

Bob Gee says his customers are thanking him for taking a stand

Store refuses to cover up tobacco wallBob Gee just wants the government to back off. His Kentville, N.S., store, Maders Tobacco, has been operating for 80 years, but over the last decade, a constant stream of new rules and regulations has been driving him crazy. The 65-year-old had to remove three tobacco displays, take the lettering off his front window, and hang 10 signs declaring the dangers of smoking. Then, in November 2006, the province passed legislation requiring him to cover all his tobacco products.

Gee says the final rule was one step too far, and he won’t cover up. So last year he was charged with improper storage and display of tobacco products, which carries a fine of up to $2,000. The court gave him time to change his mind, but he refused. Prosecutors said he could use a catalogue to show customers what was available. He refused. He was told he could get an exemption if he stopped selling products like chips and pop and officially became a tobacconist. He refused.

On July 26, he pled not guilty at his preliminary hearing. “You would not believe the number of non-smokers that are coming into my shop and congratulating us for taking a stand,” he says.

He now plans to go to court to argue that the government is infringing his right to freedom of expression. But Michael Comeau, a lawyer and human rights professor at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, says he’ll have his work cut out for him. “Results have tended to be more in the government’s favour when it comes to advertising commercial products,” he says. In other words, Gee’s argument will likely fail.

Gee says he doesn’t care. “All I want to do is operate my business in a normal peaceful manner without any unnecessary restrictions,” he says. His next court date is Sept 14, when his lawyer will try to prove he has cause to challenge the regulations.




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Store refuses to cover up tobacco wall

  1. You can't fight big Government. I'm a non smoker but would love to see him win his fight. I'm sick and tired of Big Brother being in our businesses and homes!

  2. The anti-smokers long ago exposed their illiberal agenda, and I knew they would never stop at simple restaurant bans on smoking. Unless resisted, they will not stop at cigarettes, or alcohol, or even food. Yet, for now, smoking remains legal. This man has invested his life in this legal business, and the harassment of a legitimate businessman is outrageous. I have never smoked cigarettes, nor do I want my children to smoke them. But as a good liberal (lowercase, not those non-Liberals who ages ago corrupted this term in our country) I'm appalled by the antics of the anti-smoking crowd. Such things are up to me. Not the government. I decide for myself what to consume. (This also goes for other drugs). The government's stance is hypocritical, abusive and, ultimately, damaging to society. Well done Bob Gee.

  3. Selling tobacco is a shameful way of making a living anyhow. Time to change. It's a new world.

  4. Well done Mr Gee hang in there too bad more didn't buck the crazy rules on this topic what matters who sees the smokes, this is one of the most hypocritical acts the gov. has come up with like it matters all they want is their share of the profit off what should have been made illegal way back when it became known they were so dangerous to ones health…. I'm watching several members of my family killing themselves some would say that is thier choice but after all I've seen I'm not so sure…. an addiction is what it seems like..those who smoke will find them hidden or not..adults, children dosn't matter..so hang in Mr Gee and prove your point….they are legal plain and simple…

  5. Good for him.

    Good to see a dude who just doesn't want a bunch of meddling nanny-crats telling him how his store should be arranged. He'll lose the case but he's got more Canadian character in his left pinky than all the anti-entrepreneurial government desk-weights have in their entire office building.

  6. Good for him.

    Good to see a dude who just doesn't want a bunch of meddling nanny-crats telling him how his store should be arranged. He'll lose the case but he's got more Canadian character in his left pinky than all the anti-entrepreneurial government desk-weights prosecuting him have in their entire office building.

  7. One of the big reasons for getting rid of visible tobacco displays was to eliminate the 'super walls' (paid for and planned by tobacco companies, not the store owners) which were in the face of any kid entering the same store to buy a candy bar. They were slick, and made cigarettes look appealing. Not a problem where adults are concerned, but hardly a simple matter of freedom when it comes to children.

    I have no doubt that Gee thinks he's fighting the good libertarian fight, but it's hard to see how he can feel proud about influencing kids to smoke.

    If it weren't for the impact on children angle, I'd be joining the chorus of supporters here. But Gee and others who sell killer products, made by powerful companies that are bent on addicting new generations of consumers, need to accept the right of society to protect kids.

    • I'm guessing you are not aware that under Nova Scotia law, you have to be 19 years old to even ENTER Mr. Gee's store.

  8. One look at a slick advertising campaign and they become addicts. Children are stupid and should not form the foundation upon which to build a society. We should not always strive to reach the lowest common denominator.

  9. Stores don't influence kids to smoke. Lazy parents and stupidity does. Kids today are not raised by parents but rather are raised by TV and internet. Parents need to step up and raise the kids they had properly. If you don't have the time you should put the pill between your knees and clenched real tight…

  10. If yu think that when little Jonny or Mary goes to the corner store to buy something and sees a display of cigarettes they will say "Oh I think I'll take up SMOKING" If they go the the local liquor store,with their parent,will they say "Oh I think I'll start Drinking" etc: If you believe that, then,I have a deal for you..( Hey want to buy a bridge, some land under water Etc:) Children have to be taught what is good and what is bad..Most of us who smoke, started by one of our friends offering us a cigarette that they stole from their parent.!! We then got hooked and it took years for some of us to quit..Banning tobacco displays is just another stupid " I'm going to tell you what is good for you"

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