Tobacco tax increase won’t stop students from buying cigarettes off campus

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Students taking a smoke break on campus. Photo by Renee Sutton.
A student smoking on campus. Photo by Renee Sutton.

Taxes on tobacco in B.C. will go up in April and Langara students will have to continue to go off campus for tobacco products.

The increase in tax on tobacco is intended to lower tobacco use in B.C., as well as relieve some of the burden that smoking puts on the healthcare system, according to the 2014 B.C. budget.

The tax increase, effective April 1, will mean an additional 32 cents per package of 20 cigarettes. Along with having positive health outcomes, the budget also states additional revenue as an incentive for the tax increase.

No cigarettes sold on campus

But smokers at Langara won’t see tobacco products sold on campus anytime soon, said Ed Hensley, spokesperson for the Langara Students’ Union.

The B.C. Tobacco Control Act currently restricts the sale and distribution of tobacco at any public post-secondary institution.

Some students said the increase would not discourage them from buying cigarettes. Brandon Rosario, a political science student, did not think the price increase would reduce his consumption.

“I’m addicted . . . so whatever, bump it up thirty cents. It’s not going to make much of a difference to me,” he said.

While some students don’t mind leaving campus to purchase cigarettes, some would prefer to have access to tobacco at school.

“It would be nice if they sold smokes,” said Sara Rodriguez, a creative writing student. “A lot of people do smoke so it would be a lot more convenient than walking.”

Sale of tobacco products on campus could lead more to take up the habit

Joanna Woltosz, a research associate at Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at the B.C. Cancer Agency, hopes the tax increase and Tobacco Control Act will reduce the amount of tobacco that students consume.

“The majority of the lifelong smokers actually started in their college years,” said Woltosz, adding the sale of tobacco at schools could result in more smokers taking up the habit and making it more difficult for others to quit.

Reported by Renee Sutton

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