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April 26, 2021

How much would cigarettes have to cost for smokers to quit?

God love ‘em, but there is no demographic on earth more stubborn than smokers.

‘Cause, come on: they’re not dumb. Each smoker knows the risks, knows the substantial, detailed information on what a lifetime of smoking is likely to do to your body, so it’s fair to say everyone that lights up willingly enters this dangerous contract. This, you would think, is not in dispute.

So, then, what’s a nation to do? For countries like Canada, whose publicly-funded healthcare system is bogged by smokers, we tax, tax, tax. Increases of a few cents here and there, a few dollars each pack over the course of a decade.

But you would say, by and large, this has failed. For every smoker you know that’s cut back because of increasing prices, you know ten that smoke the same but just gripe more about how much it’s costing them. So we wonder … what is the number that would finally price smokers out of their habit?

The question comes up because of some drastic, applauded-in-many-circles news out of New Zealand.

*Bing: Where are cigarettes cheapest in Canada?

According to documents released under the country’s Official Information Act, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health is considering* bumping the price of cigarettes by a stupefying margin over the next decade-plus.

Under one proposal, which aims to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025, a pack of cigarettes would increase 10 per cent each year from 2013 to 2025, bringing the retail tag to $40 per at the end of the term.

But for fear that all the $40-a-pack proposal will do is simply make regular smokers broke smokers, New Zealand wants to go bigger still.

Under another proposal from the Ministry of Health, prices would instead hike between 30 and 60 per cent each year between 2013 to 2025. A pack by the end of this term would cost a staggering $100 per.

Cost of each cigarette of a $100 20-pack? Five dollars.

Do you think pricing out smokers – literally, mandating the cost of smoking be too great for the average consumer to bear – is the right direction, or merely another example of government way overstepping its boundaries?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*The New Zealand Ministry of Health has said its proposals are, at the moment, for internal policy discussion and does not represent government policy.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...