Tobacco Tax Increase Leads to Significant Drop in Smoking Rates

An estimated 3 million fewer people smoked last year compared with 2009, when a 22 percent federal cigarette tax increase went into effect, USA Today reports. The smoking rate dropped most sharply among teens, poor people and those who are dependent on government health insurance, according to an analysis by the newspaper.

On April 1, 2009, the federal cigarette tax increased from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack. The tax has brought in more than $30 billion in new revenue, to finance expanded health care for children.

“The federal tax increase was the win-win that we thought it would be and the evidence shows that,” Danny McGoldrick of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids told the newspaper. Researcher Jidong Huang of the University of Chicago at Illinois said teen smoking immediately fell 10 percent to 13 percent after the tax increase was instituted. “High prices deter kids from picking up cigarettes,” he said.

The smoking rate has dropped for a variety of reasons in addition to higher taxes, according to the article. These include health concerns, marketing restrictions, and smoke-free buildings. Tobacco companies have raised their prices, making cigarettes even more expensive.

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    September 11, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    As Ken Winters complains in today’s commentary on an adjoining page, children are increasingly using marijuana– just as these usage statistics for tobacco are dropping. 1. Cause and effect may not be proven yet, but how about credit for a job well done if medical marijuana clinics, even under the counter, really have enabled some children to escape getting lifelong-addicted to cigarettes? 2. I note that when two cigarette packs (about an ounce net weight of tobacco, 40 x 700-mg per cig) cost less than $20 in most states, and an ounce of cannabis costs $200, the price differential is at least 10 to 1; it is this important price differential with cannabis which is altered significantly when a dollar or two tax is added to the price per pack.

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