REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN - As of midnight yesterday, Saskatchewan tax increases for tobacco took effect, The Regina Leader-Post reports. The tax on a pack of cigarettes is now $5.25 (Canadian), up from $4.50. Taxes on loose tobacco increased 21 cents per gram and by 100 percent of the retail price for cigars.
Saskatchewan is also seeking to revise its First Nations tobacco laws, restricting First Nations people to one carton of tax-free smokes per week, down from three. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) praised the proposal, saying that reducing the number of tax-free cigarettes sold on First Nations evens out competition among retailers.
"If you can level the playing field between activities on reserve and off, I think that's a step in the right direction," said Colin Craig, Prairie director of the CTF.
Health Minister Don McMorris said that the proposed change was not one motivated by commerce but by health.
"I'm going to look at what is better for the health of our general population, how to reduce some of the harmful effects of tobacco use, and that is my only goal is to reduce those harmful effects," McMorris said. "I can understand some of their frustration, but I also understand the costs that it has to the health care system."
The increased taxes are projected to generate $35.7 million more in government revenue.
Meanwhile, effective today, Saskatchewan's alcohol taxes have also increased as follows:
- 750-ml bottles of spirits, up 50 cents;
- 1.14 liter bottles, up 75 cents; and
- 12-pack of beer, up 75 cents.
- Premium wine and spirits: approximately 5 percent.
Combined, the price increases of alcohol are estimated to generate an additional $18.1 million for the province€™s General Revenue Fund.