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Tax hike leaves retailers, puffers smoking mad

| April 25, 2013

An increase in in Canada’s Manitoba province’s tobacco tax has some smokers and tobacconists worried about the holes it’s expected to burn through their wallets and bottom lines.

On  April 16, the province announced an immediate $0.04 hike in the tax, to $0.29 per cigarette, as part of its 2013 budget, according to a story in the Brandon Sun.

Peter Patel, owner of Up In Smoke Tobacconist, said he was caught off guard when he first learned of the hike on the radio.

“People are mad,” said Patel, adding he spent all of last Wednesday updating his prices and cash registers.

“They should be informed beforehand.”

The increase amounts to an extra dollar per pack of 25 cigarettes and includes an extra $0.04 per gram on fine-cut and raw leaf tobacco. The province expects to bring in an extra $17.2 million from the tax, which will be redirected into health care.

Overall, Manitoba expects to collect $283 million from tobacco taxes this year. The increase makes Manitoba smokers the most heavily taxed in Canada.