Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, because cigarettes have gone up in price again.
The cost of cigarettes has risen by five cents a smoke — or $1.25 per pack, or roughly $10 per carton. The hike was announced Monday by the NDP, but was actually included in the Progressive Conservative budget released in May.
The Tories were defeated just hours after that budget was unveiled, so the increase never took effect. But the NDP will be reintroducing much of that budget. The tobacco hike came into effect today at 12:01 a.m., and will be approved retroactively by the legislature in the fall.
The government said the hike would generate $21 million in extra revenue this year. The Canadian Cancer Society applauded the move, saying it will help wean more people off smoking.
Others are much less enthusiastic. Tim Pertus of Sievert Tobacco Shop on Barrington Street said raising tobacco taxes may seem like it’s lowering smoking levels, but it’s really backfiring.
“You just notice that people don’t come in here anymore. And you still see them smoking on the streets. So they’re getting them someplace,” he said.
Not far from Sieverts, a man stood on the sidewalk outside Pogue Fado smoking what he called an illegal cigarette. John Moor moved to Halifax from Toronto and didn’t know many people at first. But it didn’t take him long to find a source for cheap, illegal smokes, he said.
“They’re not hard to find. They’re around,” Moor commented.
Not suprisingly, Moor doesn’t think raising cigarette taxes will help people quit. He said people already want to quit, but as long as they’re smoking they’re going to do it as cheaply as possible.
“I’m from the 70s and the 80s when you could afford to smoke and do all kinds of good drugs and stuff for cheap,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s not cheap anymore.”