A Drexel University study also found a 3% overall drop in smoking risk
Quitting is easier when the habit starts burning through your cash.
Smokers are 20% likelier to quit when the price of a pack of cigarettes increased by $1, according to new research published in the journal Epidemiology. The Drexel University study, focusing on older smokers aged 44 to 84, also found a 3% overall decrease in smoking risk. Smoking bans in bars and restaurants didn’t appear to have an effect on quitting.
“Older adult smokers have been smoking for a long time and tend to have lower rates of smoking cessation compared to younger populations, suggesting deeply entrenched behavior that is difficult to change,” lead author Stephanie Mayne said in a statement, adding her team’s findings suggested “cigarette taxes may be a particularly effective lever for behavior change.”
Heavy smokers saw their risk of smoking drop by 7%, as well as a 35% decrease in their average number of daily cigarettes smoked. “Since heavy smokers smoke more cigarettes per day initially, they may feel the impact of a price increase to a greater degree and be more likely to cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoke on a daily basis,” said Mayne.
The researchers linked inflation-adjusted neighborhood tobacco price data to 632 smokers in six U.S. cities, sampled from the longitudinal Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis between 2001 and 2012.
As research indicates younger folks may be even more price-sensitive than their older counterparts, Mayne predicted the trend would be “similar or possibly stronger in a younger population.”
Previous research has shown that a 10% hike in cigarette prices yields about a 4% drop in smoking. While cigarette prices and taxes differ widely from state to state — New York’s City Council passed legislation this month to hike the minimum up to $13 — annual out-of-pocket costs can range from $1,650 in North Dakota to $3,811 in New York, per a January WalletHub study.
The broader economic costs of smoking are dizzying, too: The portion of smoking-attributable annual health care spending by 2010 totaled 8.7%, or up to $170 billion a year, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. And a 2014 Surgeon General’s report estimated smoking-attributable economic costs were approaching $300 billion, including productivity losses of $150 billion a year and at least $130 billion in direct medical care for adults.
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