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    Pain in the Butts for Ontario Store Owners

    As smoking ban goes into effect, retailers have yet to receive required signage.

    TORONTO -- Thousands of convenience store owners are worried that they will be in contravention of the new smoking law today because they have yet to receive signs they are required by law to post, according to a report by CNews Canada.

    David Bryan, president of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, said only a few stores have received mandated government signs despite repeated requests to the Ministry of Health Promotion.

    "Now they're worried they're going to be charged or they are going to be beat up by a health inspector," Bryan said in the report.

    When the Smoke-Free Ontario Act came into force at midnight yesterday, convenience stores were supposed to have posted new red and black signs indicating that no tobacco will be sold to anyone under the age of 19.

    A spokesman for Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson indicated yesterday that the ministry sent the signs out a month ago, but local public health units are responsible for distributing the signs to businesses.

    Bryan said the implementation of the smoking ban can only be described as "mass confusion" as small businesses scramble to comply with wildly conflicting opinions on the legislation.

    Information provided to the association by ministry officials is being contradicted by local public health officials charged with enforcing the law, Bryan said.

    Bryan said the Dalton McGuinty government is "stepping" on convenience store owners, who include many small businessmen and new Canadians.

    The government has yet to contact the Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association, which held a large protest at Queen's Park last month to air its complaints over the legislation, he said.

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