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Nunavut government welcomes smokers' tax hike

Cigarettes and chewing tobacco just got more expensive thanks to a tax hike announced Tuesday, and the Nunavut government’s tobacco reduction specialist is welcoming the news.

The federal government announced a new hike on taxes for smokers in Tuesday’s budget.

It will now cost about $4 more for a carton of 200 cigarettes. That’s an increase of about 50 cents for a pack of cigarettes, which already cost between $16 and $17.25 in Iqaluit.

“Increasing tobacco taxes is the single most effective way to reduce tobacco use,” says Heather Selin, a tobacco reduction specialist with Nunavut's health department, who applauds the tax hike.

“It's particularly effective among young people,” she says. “Given the high rates of tobacco use in Nunavut, this is an especially welcome announcement.”

More than 60 per cent of people in Nunavut use tobacco — about three times the average of the rest of Canada.

Selin says for every 10 per cent increase in price, there's a corresponding 4 per cent per decrease per capita in tobacco consumption.