BC Health advocates celebrate government’s 2018 tobacco tax increase
The tobacco tax increase announced in today’s BC budget will better align BC’s tobacco tax rate with other provinces and territories. BC will see an increase from $49.40 per carton of 200 cigarettes to $55.00, a difference of 2.8 cents per cigarette. Further, the tax rate on loose tobacco will increase to 37.5 cents per gram to help close an open loophole that saw loose tobacco taxed less than manufactured cigarettes.“Tobacco is still our number one public health issue: smoking kills 45,000 Canadians every year and is responsible for about 30% of all cancer deaths,” says Andrea Seale, Executive Director, BC and Yukon, for the Canadian Cancer Society. “This is an important move by the BC government to help smokers quit and discourage young smokers from starting.”
While BC has a lower provincial smoking average than Canada as a whole, multiple regions within the province exceed the national average. Tobacco accounts for the leading cause of preventable disease in BC. Adrianne Bakker, CEO BC & Yukon Heart & Stroke adds that “tobacco drains $2 billion annually from our health system and economy in direct and indirect costs.”Christopher Lam, CEO of the BC Lung Association adds: “higher tobacco taxes are the single most effective tool to reduce consumption.”
Even after this increase, BC will still have the fourth lowest cigarette tax rate of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories.
The budget announcement comes on the heels of the health advocates’ call for a provincial comprehensive tobacco control strategy this past National Non-Smoking Week.
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BC and Yukon Advocacy Lead
Canadian Cancer Society