Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik November 21, 2012 - 6:27 am

Nunavik smokers, drinkers can expect to pay more for cigarettes, booze

Quebec's Nov. 20 budget increases taxes on tobacco, alcohol

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
If you're a smoker in Nunavik, you will pay more for a pack of cigarettes on Nov. 21 than you did on Nov. 20, following a tax increase announced Nov. 20. (FILE PHOTO)
If you're a smoker in Nunavik, you will pay more for a pack of cigarettes on Nov. 21 than you did on Nov. 20, following a tax increase announced Nov. 20. (FILE PHOTO)

If you live in Nunavik, and if, like 70 per cent of the population, you’re a smoker, you will immediately notice the impact of the Nov. 20 Quebec budget which raised the tax on cigarettes.

Retailers throughout Quebec started charging higher cigarette taxes at midnight on Tuesday.

The tax charged on an individual cigarette has risen to 12.9 cents per cigarette, up from 10.9 cents.

This means a pack of cigarettes will cost you about 50 cents more.

The price of a carton of 200 cigarettes will rise by $4.

This increase in the tobacco tax, the first increase since 2003, is expected to help Quebec foot the health care bill for smoking-related ailments which cost the province $1.6 billion a year.

The increase in the tobacco tax will bring in $43 million in extra revenue in 2012-2013 and $130 million more in the next two fiscal years.

The measure should also encourage 50,000 smokers in the province to quit.

“Raising the cost of tobacco products is one of the most effective ways of tackling this scourge,” Quebec’s finance minister Nicholas Marceau said Nov. 20.

Last February, Nunavut MLAs approved a tobacco tax increase in the legislature that raised the price of cigarettes across the territory, with smokers paying $1 a package more for packs of 25 pre-made cigarettes, and an additional four cents a gram for loose tobacco.

Negative reaction to Quebec’s tax hike was immediate from the tobacco industry. Imperial Tobacco said Quebec’s move was a “cash grab decision,” which “has just set out a welcome mat for organized crime to increase its stake of the tobacco market in the province.”

The Canadian Cancer Foundation criticized the tax increase as too small, saying that an increase of 60 cents per pack would have more impact and reflect inflation.

Also more expensive after Nov. 20: alcohol, on which the tax increased by 25 per cent at 3 a.m. today.

This means you can expect to pay more for beer, wine and spirits, whether you buy them in a bar, restaurant or at a retailer.

In bars and restaurants, this means the tax on alcohol now stands at 82 cents per litre, up from 65 cents. For all other alcoholic beverages, the tax will be $2.47 per litre, up from $1.97 per litre.

On purchased alcohol, through the Société des Alcools du Québec and other outlets, the tax now stands at 50 cents per litre of beer, up from 40 cents per litre. For all other alcoholic beverages, the tax will be $1.12 per litre, up from 89 cents per litre.

So, you’ll pay about three cents more for a bottle of beer and 17 cents for a bottle of wine while a bottle of spirits will cost 26 cents more.

The new alcohol tax will generate $33 million for Quebec in in 2012-2013 and $100 million in each of the following two fiscal years.

High income earners will now pay higher income taxes, too. People who earn $100,000 or more will now pay a tax of 25.75 per cent on income above that level, up from 24 per cent.

The measure, among the others needed to balance Quebec’s $72-billion budget, the first from the new Parti Québecois government, will raise $74 million for Quebec this fiscal year and $326 million in 2013-14.

The PQ had mentioned increasing royalties on mining companies by five per cent up to a high of 30 per cent, but now says it will consult with the firms first.

Marceau said government will continue its work to produce a plan “that optimizes the return from resource development for all Quebecers.”

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