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Rising tobacco taxes have dramatically increased the threat of crime at Canadian convenience stores, according to a new report from Interpol president Norm Inkster.

The "Tobacco Related Crime Study," which followed several high-profile incidents of convenience store crime, was commissioned by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) as part of an assessment of the impact of the Ontario Government's proposed tobacco tax increases. The Inkster Group produced a statistical analysis of the relationship between the price of tobacco products and convenience store crime, and interviewed officers from several law enforcement agencies.

The report determined that the number of robberies and break-ins has increased by close to 28 percent in the past two years, and losses have increased by 131 percent. Further analysis found a statistical correlation of 99.1 percent between the price of cigarettes and the incidence of break-ins and robberies.

"These increases are staggering," said Howard McIntyre, president of OCSA. "Our members have been telling me that they feel less secure in their stores and are having a difficult time recruiting employees, especially for evening shifts. This report confirms that their fears are well founded."

In other news, Coca-Cola's mid-calorie soft drink, C2, won't get a chance to test the market in the United Kingdom, one of the company's most important and profitable overseas markets, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The decision not to sell C2 in Britain, one of Coke's most important and profitable overseas markets, might be another sign of the fading fortunes of the mid-calorie drink.

Coke debuted C2 in Japan and the United States in June with hopes the drink would appeal to calorie-counting, carb-conscious consumers, but it has not been a hit in either country or in Canada. Some consumers didn't like the taste of the drink, while others lost interest in lower-carb products.

Analyst Bill Pecoriello of Morgan Stanley, an early skeptic about the prospects for mid-calorie colas, thinks C2 won't develop beyond being a small, niche product. In part, it's because it still has too many calories for some buyers. "We continue to believe that the poor performance of the product results from its inherent qualities and not the pricing or package strategy," he said.
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