Smoking Rates Decline as Cigarette Taxes Rise
Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are happy to report that tax increases on cigarettes have led to declining rates in smoking, especially among heavy smokers. Author Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, PhD, a research assistant professor of psychiatry, and her team were surprised to find that heavy smokers, whom they thought would be resistant to price increases, were the most likely individuals to cut back on their habits compared to light smokers.
The researchers analyzed data from a large study which looked into the use of alcohol and drugs in people with psychiatric and medical conditions. From this study, they identified more than 7,000 smokers and conducted a survey on their smoking habits. The participants were tracked for three years, after which they were asked the same questions.
The study, which was published recently in the journal Tobacco Control, revealed that on the average, smokers reduced smoking from 16 to 14 cigarette sticks per day after three years. Although this seemed like a small change, individuals who showed the most change were those who used to smoke about two packs per day.
The decline in smoking was greatest in states where cigarette taxes increased by 35% or more. They found that heavy smokers cut back their smoking by an average of 35% while light smokers used 15% fewer cigarette sticks.
The investigators state that although there were other factors that influenced smokers’ habits, such as smoke-free indoor air policies and presence of medical problems resulting from smoking, the greatest impact on smoking behavior came from increased cigarette prices.
Washington University in St. Louis. As cigarette taxes go up, heavy smoking goes down. ScienceDaily.