Cigarette price influences smoking
TORONTO, May 30 (UPI) -- When cigarette prices drop, young people are more likely to pick up the smoking habit, according to a Canadian study of adults age 20 to 24.
After years of tobacco tax hikes to discourage smoking, the Canadian government and several provinces reversed their tobacco-tax policy in the early 1990s to combat cigarette smuggling.
In the five provinces that cut the price of cigarette taxes, the reduction in price ranged from $12.74 (CAD14) to $19.11 (CAD21) per carton.
"We found that a big decrease in cigarette price resulted in an increase in smoking initiation among young adults," said principal investigator Joanna Cohen, assistant professor in the department of public health sciences at the University of Toronto.
In the provinces where cigarette prices dropped dramatically, 10.5 percent of the young people surveyed became smokers, while in the provinces that had no tobacco tax cut, 8.5 percent of the young adults took up smoking, according to the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"Two percentage points in a big population turns out to be a lot of people," said Cohen. "When you're talking about the numbers of kids who are smoking, that's huge."