In Canada, the cost of cigarettes is more than just a price tag; it’s a reflection of evolving policies, health considerations, and economic impacts.
Below, I’ll outline what you can expect to pay for a pack of cigarettes from one province to the next. I’ll explore some of the factors driving these costs, the economic implications of smoking, and even touch on the potential savings of kicking the habit.
Whether you’re a smoker or just curious about the economics of tobacco in Canada, you’re going to like this post.
In Canada, the cost of lighting up a cigarette might just burn a hole in your wallet.
Prices have soared, with some areas seeing a carton of 200 cigarettes surpassing $139 and small 20-cigarette packs costing up to $20 after all taxes are factored in.
According to a 2020 report by the World Health Organization:
- The cheapest pack of cigarettes costs $9.58
- The cost of a pack of premium-brand cigarettes was $14.88
On average, though, a pack of 20 cigarettes typically costs between $12 and $18, depending on the brand, type, where you’re located, and how much the store is marking them up.
The steadily increasing cost of tobacco reflects Canada’s broader efforts to deter smoking and cover the healthcare costs associated with tobacco use.
Tobacco use, and cigarette smoking in particular, is associated with a wide number of health problems, ranging from cancer to high blood pressure, respiratory disease, and more.
Canada’s universal healthcare system picks up the tab for most health issues, including those that may be directly attributed to habits like excessive smoking, alcohol abuse, and other lifestyle choices.
By making smoking more expensive, the government aims to make smoking less accessible. By its logic, the fewer chronic smokers there are, the fewer smoking-related illnesses the government will have to pay to treat, resulting in lower healthcare costs.
The price for a pack or carton of cigarettes can vary significantly by province and territory. For example, in the Northern Territories, where food and supply shipments often must be flown in by plane, cigarettes (like almost every other food product) can become exorbitantly expensive.
Similarly, cigarette prices in major city centres may be more costly compared to prices in smaller, more rural towns due to the higher cost of business operations and rent in larger cities.
Here are some interesting facts about the average cost of cigarettes in various provinces, according to a recent report by Piggy Bank bank:
- Ontario: $14 per pack
- Quebec: $10 per pack
- British Columbia: $12 per pack
- Alberta: $13 per pack
These differences are largely due to varying provincial taxes, regulations, logistics costs, and other cost of living factors.
- Related Reading: Average Cost Of Living By Province In Canada
In Canada, the price of cigarettes isn’t just a random number. It’s shaped by several key factors, each contributing to the final cost that smokers bear.
From government taxes to manufacturing nuances, the price tag on a pack of cigarettes tells a deeper story of economics and policy. With that in mind, here are some of the key factors that influence cigarette and tobacco prices in Canada.
The primary driver behind the high cost of cigarettes in Canada is taxation. Both the federal and provincial governments impose taxes on tobacco products, which is a significant factor in their retail pricing.
These taxes serve a dual purpose: they discourage smoking by increasing costs and generate revenue that often supports public health initiatives. Each province sets its own tax rates, leading to varied prices across the country.
The rationale is simple – higher taxes lead to higher prices, which in turn, are intended to lower smoking rates.
Changing tobacco regulations in Canada also plays a significant role in determining cigarette prices.
These regulations, which also encompass advertising restrictions, packaging requirements, and age limitations, add to the operational costs for manufacturers and retailers.
For instance, plain packaging rules require additional compliance, impacting the overall cost.
Tobacco companies are also prohibited from advertising their products on social media platforms (the most cost-effective form of advertising) and often must rely on traditional print advertising, driving up marketing costs and the total final product cost.
These regulations aim to reduce tobacco use, especially among youth, by making smoking less appealing and more difficult to access.
Lastly, the costs associated with shipping and manufacturing cigarettes add to their final price. The tobacco industry in Canada faces logistical expenses, including the transport of goods across vast distances, especially in a country as large as Canada.
Additionally, the cost of producing cigarettes, which involves sourcing materials, manufacturing, and ensuring quality control, also factors into the retail price.
In Canada, the impact of smoking extends beyond just the individual. It can place an economic burden on the economy as a whole. Here are some of the notable ways that Canadians’ smoking habits are affecting the country.
The cost of treating smoking-related illnesses, such as lung cancer, COPD, and cardiovascular diseases, is a significant burden on Canada’s healthcare system.
These conditions require extensive medical interventions, including surgeries, long-term treatment, and medications, incurring considerable healthcare expenses. Tobacco use in Canada costs the healthcare system and the economy approximately $17 billion annually, including both healthcare and indirect economic costs.
Despite the government generating revenue from tobacco taxes, the healthcare costs associated with smoking-related illnesses often exceed this revenue.
The impact of smoking on productivity is twofold: increased absenteeism and reduced workforce.
Smokers are more likely to miss work due to health complications related to their habit. Furthermore, smoking can lead to reduced productivity even when smokers are present at work (we all know that one person who takes more than their fair share of 10-minute smoke breaks).
Additionally, premature mortality and disability due to smoking can reduce the workforce, leading to a loss of skilled workers.
Increased demand for hospital beds, medical staff, and equipment to manage conditions caused or exacerbated by smoking can lead to an overburdened healthcare system.
This strain not only affects smokers but also impacts the overall efficiency and capacity of hospitals, healthcare staff, and surgeons.
The social costs of smoking, including the impact of secondhand smoke, extend to non-smokers as well. A recent report from the federal government stated that there are nearly 1,000 deaths each year that can be attributed to secondhand smoke exposure.
Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke face increased health risks, leading to additional healthcare costs and societal burdens. These indirect impacts further amplify the economic implications of smoking in Canada.
Quitting smoking is one of the most beneficial decisions you can make for both your wallet and your health. Ultimately, the choice is your’s to make. But here are some things to consider that could impact your decision.
The cost of cigarettes in Canada is climbing annually. If you’re a pack-a-day smoker, purchasing a pack for $14, your annual expenditure on cigarettes alone can be around $5,110.
Quitting smoking opens up significant financial room, potentially saving thousands of dollars each year that could be better spent or saved.
Smokers are often classified as higher risk by insurance companies, leading to inflated premiums. Smokers can pay 30-300% more on term life insurance than non-smokers. The financial benefit of quitting becomes evident as you age and premiums rise.
Additionally, quitting smoking can make you eligible for better rates and coverage options in private health insurance, where smoking-related conditions might otherwise limit your options.
Now, here are some of the health benefits you could see if you kick the habit.
Non-smokers have a significantly lower risk of developing smoking-related diseases like lung cancer, heart disease, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
By quitting smoking, you drastically reduce your likelihood of facing these life-threatening conditions.
Smokers are more likely to require medical treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy, leading to higher healthcare costs. Male smokers are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer, and female smokers are 13 times more likely than non-smokers.
This increased risk translates to significant medical expenses and potential loss of income due to time taken off work.
Kicking your smoking habit (or at least cutting back) is a great way to reduce your weekly expenses and can help you prevent costly and deadly health issues further down the line. If the trend continues, cigarette prices will likely continue increasing over the next decade.
The cost of cigarettes in Canada isn’t the only thing that’s rising. Groceries, fuel, and other daily necessities have also been steadily rising.
One of the best ways to put extra money in your pocket is to use cash back apps that help you save money on daily purchases.
Keep on reading to see my list of the best cash back and couponing apps in Canada!