Tobacco tax hike made Nunavut smokers quit: GN
Tobacco cost more, but quitting saved smokers money, GN says
Smoking among Nunavummiut dropped slightly between March and November 2012.
And that saved those people who quit more than $750,000, the Government of Nunavut said March 21.
The GN attributes the 2.9 per cent drop in smoking to its five-year “Tobacco Has No Place Here” campaign, now in its second year.
“People are cutting back and quitting, which indicates that our tobacco reduction plan is having an impact,” Keith Peterson, minister of health and social services, said in a GN news release.
Last February, Nunavut MLAs approved a tobacco tax increase in the legislature that raised the price of cigarettes across the territory by $1.
According to the GN, the 2.9-per cent decline in the number of smokers represents more than 600,000 cigarettes, or over 24,000 packs.
Nunavummiut also cut down on their consumption of chewing tobacco by almost 800,000 grams, the release said.
The price of some tobacco is now set to rise again due to measures announced March 21 in the federal budget.
The budget calls for the excise duty on chewing tobacco or fine-cut tobacco used in roll-your-own cigarettes to increase, to $21.25 per 200 grams from $11.57 per 200 grams.
The GN said it plans to sink $2.5 million a year into supporting its “tobacco reduction framework,” starting in 2013-14.
Earlier this year, Nunavummiut were invited to participate in the tobacco reduction campaign’s “Steps for Change” challenge.
Participants signed “commitment cards” to show a change they would make in their lives this year when it comes to smoking and chewing tobacco.
The commitment cards were entered in community draws and in a grand prize territorial draw, with Diana Okalik of Whale Cove winning an Apple MacBook Pro laptop computer and Jennifer Nowdlak of Iqaluit a canvas wall tent.
The winners were chosen of out 2,600 entries in the youth and adult categories in a draw held March 8, at the health and social services office in Iqaluit.
Nunavut has the highest smoking rate in the country, something the territorial government called a “public health epidemic” before the tobacco reduction plan was tabled in October 2011.
Statistics Canada data from 2011 estimates that 60 per cent of Nunavummiut aged 12 and over still smoke daily or occasionally.
And tobacco use has serious health consequences for Nunavummiut, such as cancer: lung cancer is responsible for 49 per cent of cancer deaths in Nunavut, and 90 per cent of lung cancer in men and 70 per cent in women is caused by smoking.
For more information on the GN’s campaign, go to its tobacco reduction campaign website, called “nu quits.”