B.C. tobacco tax adds $5.50 to a pack of 20 cigarettes effective April 1, on top of sales tax and federal excise tax. (Black Press files)

BC BUDGET: Tobacco tax hike may light up black market in smokes

NDP government adds another 56 cents per pack as of April 1

The latest increase in tobacco taxes puts B.C. cigarette prices among the highest in Canada, prompting concern about an increase in smuggled smokes.

The B.C. government budget adds 56 cents in tax to the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes, effective April 1. That brings the total provincial tax to $5.50 per pack, with federal excise tax and provincial sales tax on top of that.

It’s the second increase this year. B.C.’s tobacco tax went up 16 cents per pack on Jan. 1, and one of Canada’s largest tobacco companies warns the effect may not be what the provincial government expects.

A 50-cent tax increase in Alberta last year led to a drop in tobacco tax revenue, said Eric Gagnon, head of corporate and regulatory affairs for Imperial Tobacco Canada.

“Excessive taxation is the primary factor that drives consumers to the illegal market,” Gagnon said. “The federal government recognizes this when it comes to marijuana, with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau suggesting that taxes should be kept low to allow competition with the illicit market.”

B.C. continues to allow tax-exempt tobacco sales to aboriginal people on reserves, and in duty free shops for international travellers. Diplomatic and consular staff are also eligible for tax-free tobacco purchases.

Just Posted

Elizabeth May arrested at Kinder Morgan protest

Randall Garrison, MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, speaks out against pipeline

Large Kinder Morgan pipeline protest at Victoria MP office

Dozens gathered out front of Murray Rankin’s constituency office Friday to protest Trans Mountain pipeline

Esquimalt High robotics students engineer their way to Texas

Rookie team qualifies for FIRST World Championship after breathing life into armed robot Spike

5 must-do things this weekend in Greater Victoria

Soccer playoffs, hockey playoffs, Dunahee run, art show and Lego

Capital Region regular gas prices highest since 2008

Greater Victoria prices roughly 10 cents above the B.C. average

New leader aims to grow Oak Bay Volunteer Services

About 200 volunteers offer about 500 residents with support services

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

Vancouver Island pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions we received from around the region

MLA Report: Lowering the voting age to 16 in BC

By Andrew Weaver On March 13, I introduced for a third time… Continue reading

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

View Royal mayor says Saanich had a take-it-or-leave-it approach to fire dispatch

Re: Communities pull the plug on Saanich fire dispatch. Mayor Richard Atwell… Continue reading

B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

Comox Valley hospital operating above patient capacity

The new healthcare facility averaged a 110 per cent patient volume between October and February

UPDATED: MPs Elizabeth May, Kennedy Stewart arrested at B.C. anti-pipeline protest

The demonstration is part of a day of action against the Trans Mountain expansion

Most Read