Some of the smokers I know are in denial. They made the claim that increasing cigarette tax doesn’t work (of course, they have a stake in this) and they’re generally rather upset when cigarette prices increase. But fact is, statistically, increasing cigarette tax has shown some results – people do quit. Washington Post explains:

Cigarette Tax Boost Prods Some to Quit

The 62-cent tax increase was adopted this year as a way to fund the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. On Wednesday, the day the increase took effect, the District’s quit line got 131 calls, a record. The same day a week earlier, it had 44 calls; a month earlier, 19.

“I’m in shock, quite frankly,” said Debra Annand, director of health education services for the American Lung Association’s District of Columbia office, which contracts with the local health department to provide smoking-cessation services.

“Obviously something happened to drive that call volume up,” Annand said. “Lots of research has shown the number one thing that helps people quit is increasing the price.”

“Several measures are proven to reduce tobacco use. Foremost is taxation,” wrote the author of a report two years ago in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A national telephone number, 1-800-QUITNOW, connects callers to programs in all 50 states and the District. In March, it registered 203,374 calls, more than twice February’s 91,316. In January, it got 76,685.

Normally, February and March have about the same number of calls, and fewer than January, which is a big month for quitting, said Linda A. Bailey, president of the North American Quitline Consortium.

Various forces are at play in addition to the tax increase.

Virginia recently enacted a law that will ban smoking in most restaurants starting in December. “That may be contributing to some of this,” Phil Giaramita, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Health, said yesterday.

But the price of cigarettes appears to be the main driver of the recent rise in people seeking help. (Source: Washington Post)

I won’t call this a surprise at all. But at least now there’s something I can show to people who insist increasing cigarette tax doesn’t make people quit. It does, it’s just not obvious.

comments powered by Disqus