New findings suggest that increasing the price of cigarettes is a highly effective way of decreasing smoking rates.
The research focused on older smokers, aged between 44 and 84 across six locations, including Chicago and the Bronx, New York. The findings claim that ‘with a $1 (80p) increase on cigarette prices, smokers were 20% more likely to quit’.
The leader of the study, Dr Stephanie Mayne said:
“Our finding that increases in cigarette prices were associated with quitting smoking in the older population suggests that cigarette taxes may be a particularly effective lever for behaviour change.”
Also shown in the findings was that ‘heavy smokers showed a 35 per cent reduction in the average number of fags they smoked each day.’
Can smokers get around this tax increase?
While the evidence may suggest that increase in tobacco tax is a simple method to reduce smoking rates, not everyone is convinced and Dr Timea Partos, King’s College London said:
“Increasing tobacco prices is known to be one of the best deterrents to reduce smoking, but an increase in availability of cheaper products in conventional stores in response to this appears to be thwarting public health campaigns.”
Dr Timea Partos’s concern is that the tobacco industry can ‘undermine these tax increases by offering such a wide range of cigarette prices’.
This concern comes after researchers conducted a study which showed that by switching to a cheaper brand of cigarettes or to roll-ups, smokers could obtain cigarettes to prices comparable to those over a decade ago.
Cigarette Tax increase not effective in Australia
Other experts also disagree that hikes in cigarette tax have the desired effect on a global scale as Dr Colin Mendelsohn, Public Health Expert in Australia said:
“For the first time ever, there has been no statistically significant reduction in the smoking rate, and an increase in the number of smokers in Australia. This is despite plain packaging and the most expensive cigarette prices in the world.”
With e-cigarettes strictly regulated in Australia, Mendelsohn’s findings could suggest that without a suitable replacement to cigarettes, the tax increase method may not have the desired effect.
Do you think tax increases is the best way to reduce smoking rates? Let us know in the comments below.