Cigarette packs could cost $1 more under Nunavut's proposed tobacco tax

Let the Nunavut gov't know how it should legalize marijuana

It could cost a dollar more for a pack of 20 cigarettes in Nunavut, if a new bill gets passed in the legislature.

The government is proposing to increase taxes on tobacco, with the tax per cigarette rising by 5 cents to 30 cents a cigarette.

The biggest possible increase is on loose tobacco to bring its price up to match the cost of manufactured cigarettes. A gram would jump from 20 cents to 40 cents.

Chewing tobacco could see an increase by 10 cents to 30 cents a gram.

The last tax increase for tobacco was in February 2012, after which Finance Minister Keith Peterson says there was a drop in tobacco use.

"Higher prices for products, in conjunction with education, should send the message that we're trying to deter smoking, especially among younger kids," he said.

Including all tobacco products, Nunavut's population of 37,000 smokes the equivalent of 66 million cigarettes, according to Peterson.

Seventy per cent of the population over the age of 15 smoke, he said. 

He says he hopes raising taxes will be most effective at deterring youth, since they have less disposable income.

"People say 'Oh we're raising taxes to get revenues'. No. We spend more helping people once they become sick with their healthcare costs," he said. "The reality is smoking cigarettes is something that is going to cause you to get very sick."

The bill to change the tax has passed first and second reading during the legislative assembly's winter sitting.

It will now go to the Standing Committee on Legislation for review.