The rising cost of smoking

    A new cigarette tax is in place in New Brunswick, and both consumers and retailers alike will feel the change.

    The new tax was introduced with the provincial budget last Wednesday.

    Emily Smith, a University of New Brunswick student, worries how the toll this tax will take on her finances.

    “I can barely afford it now, and they’re raising it. But all that aside, it might help me stop smoking.”

    This tax increase was brought into effect in an effort to fight the provincial deficit. The government expects to receive an extra $15 million from the tax.

    Many people anticipate a drop in cigarette sales. More people might try harder to quit smoking altogether.

    The price for a pack of cigarettes went up by 50 cents across the province, and at the convenience store in the Student Union Building, it increased by 59 cents.

    This convenience store hasn’t seen much of a decline in sales yet, and they don’t really expect to. Generally, you can buy a pack of cigarettes at this store for a lower price than many other places in Fredericton, and this keeps them competitive.

    They still have to sell at a higher rate than the 50-cent minimum increase in order to maintain their margin.

    Some fear that smokers will turn to the black market in search of cheaper tobacco, which would be a serious threat to both the government and retailers.

    Store-owner Brian Haines says his sales haven’t suffered yet because their consumers are mostly students who buy from his store faithfully.

    “The students are generally pretty thrifty, so they do mention many times they find our cigarettes to be cheaper – or less expensive. I guess, we shouldn’t say cheaper, value-priced – than most of the places in town. They’re pretty loyal to us, and they’re continuing to come.”

    Haines expected a bit of an increase in products geared toward helping people quit, but he said ultimately those products are useless unless the individual is truly ready to quit.