Rising Cost of Cigarettes May Help Smokers Honor New Yearâ€™s Resolution to Quit
PITTSBURGH, PA -- (INTERNET WIRE) -- 01/08/2003 -- More than ever, a significant number of Americans resolved to ring in a smoke-free New Year when the clock struck midnight on December 31st. Leading economic researchers say this surge can be attributed t
â€œThe data are clear. Higher cigarette prices, including those resulting from cigarette excise tax increases, have led to reductions in cigarette smoking,â€ says Frank Chaloupka, Ph.D., director of the Health Policy Center and Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. â€œOur research finds that every 10 percent increase in cigarette prices reduces the number of people who smoke by approximately two percent; and that a permanent 10 percent increase in cigarette prices would reduce the average duration of smoking by about 10 percent.â€
Dr. Chaloupka, whose findings have been cited in anti-smoking ballot measures in a number of states, found that reductions in smoking resulting from higher cigarette taxes are furthered when states use the revenues to fund behavioral support programs to assist quitters. Moreover, investigators note that the recent cigarette price hikes have led to significant increases in the demand for stop smoking nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) such as the nicotine patch, gum and lozenge, which have been shown to significantly increase a smokerâ€™s chance of quitting successfully.
â€œCold turkey has about a 95 percent chance of failure,â€ says Steven Lamm, M.D., clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York University. â€œThere are safe and effective FDA-approved products like the NicoDermÂ® CQÂ® nicotine patch, NicoretteÂ® gum and the new Commitâ„¢ lozenge that can help smokers control their cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These tools, combined with support and encouragement from friends and family, have been shown to increase a smokerâ€™s chances of quitting successfully.â€
In addition to cigarette tax hikes, the trend among governmental officials and lawmakers to implement public smoking bans in many cities and states further provide societal support for smokers to quit. In fact, according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who championed anti-smoking legislation that recently won approval, prohibiting smoking in workplaces, bars and restaurants could save 1,000 lives a year.
Overall, public health advocates and physicians agree that these aggressive state and city anti-tobacco initiatives may provide just the incentive smokers need to resolve to quit once and for all. â€œTaken together, our findings clearly demonstrate the importance of economic incentives in promoting smoking cessation,â€ says Dr. Chaloupka. He adds that higher cigarette prices and anti-tobacco legislation will lead many current smokers to quit smoking, and when coupled with increased access to cessation services and products, even larger reductions in smoking will result.