The study, published in Epidemiology, used 10 years of neighborhood-level price data to determine how it affected nearby smokers, focusing on those who skewed older.
The cohort looked at included smokers ranging in age from 44 to 84 and stretched across six different places, including the Bronx, Chicago, and the county containing Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Data were taken from the study population between 2002 and 2012 as a part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Artherosclerosis (MESA).
“Our finding that increases in cigarette prices were associated with quitting smoking in the older population suggests that cigarette taxes may be a particularly effective lever for behavior change.” Said Dr. Stephanie Mayne, the lead author of the study who is a former doctoral student at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health and now a fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Program in Public Health. She is joined by Dr. Amy Auchincloss, Dr. Ana Diez Roux, Dr. Yvonne Michael, and Mr. David Kern, all of Drexel.
Dr. Mayne continued, “Our finding that increases in cigarette prices were associated with quitting smoking in the older population suggests that cigarette taxes may be a particularly effective lever for behavior change.”
In addition to finding that current smokers were 20 percent more likely to quit smoking when pack prices went up by a dollar, Mayne and Auchincloss’ team showed that there was a 3 percent overall reduction in smoking risk.
However, when the data was narrowed to heavy smokers (defined as smoking more than half a pack a day), there was a seven percent reduction in risk. When prices increased by a dollar, heavy smokers also showed a 35 percent reduction in the average number of cigarettes they smoked per day, compared to 19 percent less in the overall smoking population.
Smoking cessation remains an important focus of public health efforts since it remains the largest preventable cause of death and disease in not just the United States, but the world.
“Given our findings, if an additional one dollar was added to the U.S. tobacco tax, it could amount to upwards of one million fewer smokers,” Auchincloss said. “Short of federal taxes, raising state and local taxes and creating minimum price thresholds for tobacco should be essential components of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy — particularly in places with high tobacco prevalence.
The study, “Longitudinal Associations of Local Cigarette Prices and Smoking Bans with Smoking Behavior in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA),” was also co-authored by Dr. Ana Diez Roux, Dean, and Dr. Yvonne Michael, associate dean and associate professor, and David Kern, PhD, all of the Dornsife School of Public Health; Ana Navas-Acien, PhD, of Columbia University; and Joel Kaufman, MD, of the University of Washington. And Dr. Mark Stehr, PhD from Drexel’s School of Economics.Tags: Drexel