Smokers in the NWT may be wondering why their cigarettes are now regulated by the province of Manitoba, as the stamps on their packs now indicate.
As of Dec. 1, 2018, NWT tobacco wholesalers are required to buy and sell certain tobacco products only if they bear Manitoba tobacco stamps.
The rules apply to packs of 20 and 25 cigarettes, as well as to 50-gram, 100-gram and 200-gram packages of fine-cut tobacco.
Other tobacco products will continue to use the Canada-wide duty-paid stamp, which was previously in use across the board.
“The NWT does not have its own tobacco stamp and has historically used the Canada Stamp,” stated Todd Sasaki, Department of Finance spokesperson, in an emailed explanation. “This stamp is used in various locations throughout Canada, which made it more difficult to identify any tobacco sold illegally in the NWT. The change ensures that the NWT sells a unique stamped product similar to the provinces.”
Similar to Prince Edward Island, which uses Nova Scotia’s tobacco stamp, Sasaki stated it’s not cost-effective for the tobacco manufacturers to produce a tobacco stamp specifically for the NWT.
“The GNWT approached Manitoba to adopt their tobacco stamp as their tax rate of $59.00 per carton is the closest to the NWT’s tax rate of $60.80 per carton,” stated Sasaki.
This small difference reduces the risk of people bringing in Manitoba-stamped tobacco from out-of-territory, as the costs are close enough that it wouldn’t be very profitable.
There’s a six-month transition period to allow wholesalers and retailers to sell off their remaining stock with the Canada stamps.
When contacted in late December, Al Phillips, proprietor of Right Stop Convenience in Hay River, said he hadn’t yet heard about the change.
Chris Mitchell, manager of Big River Service Centre in Fort Providence, did not respond to requests for comment.