High cigarette taxes curb heavy smoking
When cigarette taxes go up, hard-core smokers are more likely than lighter smokers to cut back, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
"Most clinicians and researchers thought these very heavy smokers would be the most resistant to price increases," says first author Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, PhD.
"Many believed this group was destined to continue smoking heavily forever, but our study points out that, in fact, change can occur. And that's very good news."
The study found that higher taxes caused the greatest reductions in smoking among those who smoked the most.
Cavazos-Rehg, a research assistant professor of psychiatry, and her team analyzed a subset of data from a large study documenting the prevalence of alcohol and drug use and associated psychiatric and medical conditions.
The study identified 7,068 smokers and asked them how much they smoked. Three years later, researchers went back and asked the smokers the same question.
"On average, everyone was smoking a little less," says Cavazos-Rehg. "But when we factored in price changes from tax increases, we found that the heaviest smokers responded to price increases by cutting back the most."
The study was published in the journal Tobacco Control.