As B.C. tobacco taxes rise, more smokers are turning to the black market
When William Spencer started smoking at the age of 10, he says a pack of 20 cigarettes cost about $2.50 at his local corner store.
Today, Spencer is 61, and a pack of store-bought cigarettes would cost him a minimum of $17. He switched to contraband cigarettes around 20 years ago, which he buys for $5 a pack.
Spencer, who smokes about a half a pack a day of Rolled Gold, can’t count the number of times he’s tried to quit smoking. He believes his smoking habit is the root of some of his health problems, but quitting has eluded him.
“I had a heart attack in about 2018 … it wasn’t a major heart attack but I’m sure it was because of the cigarettes,” Spencer said. “I’ve tried (to quit) so many times, even tried the patch.”
Spencer says the price for a pack of contraband cigarettes has only risen by a dollar in the 20 years he’s been smoking them, while prices for legal cigarettes have skyrocketed.