Cigarette Taxes, Smoke-Free Policies Have Led to Drop in Smoking and Drinking: Study

A new study finds cigarette tax increases and smoke-free policies have reduced both smoking and alcohol use. The researchers found consumption of beer and hard liquor declined in states where strict anti-tobacco legislation has been passed in the past 30 years.

“The major finding is that over a 30-year time span increasing cigarette prices and strengthening smoke-free air laws has also reduced alcohol consumption per capita,” study author Melissa Krauss of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis told HealthDay. “The big message is that some very good state tobacco policies have had public health implications that go beyond what was actually intended.”

The researchers analyzed state alcohol sales, tax and shipment data from 1980 to 2009. During this period many states began to implement cigarette tax increases and smoke-free laws, the article notes. These alcohol trends were compared with state smoke-free policies and cigarette tax increases.

For every 1 percent increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes, there was an almost 1 percent decrease in the overall per-person consumption of alcohol, the researchers report in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Wine consumption was not influenced by state smoking policies, the researchers found. Krauss noted wine drinkers are less likely to smoke and tend to live healthier lives.

“In situations when smokers are drinking alcohol, it tends to trigger cravings for a cigarette,” explained Krauss said in a news release. “Some people even tend to smoke only when they drink, but not at any other time.”