Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Older adult smokers quit when cost of cigarettes go up - not just kids.

Taxes on cigarettes went up $1.25 per pack last week in New York State for a total tax of $2.75 the highest of any state in the nation. There is public health research evidence that when prices of cigarettes go up the prevalence of smoking goes down.

It has been thought that younger people are more sensitive to the price increases and quit, but now there is further evidence that adults are sensitive as well especially adults less well educated and poorer.

The study was reported in the July, 2008 issue of the Journal of Health Economics. Here is the abtract:

While recent evidence casts some doubt, it is generally accepted that the price sensitivity of smoking varies inversely with age. We investigate the responsiveness of older adult smoking using variation from recent historically large cigarette tax increases in the United States. Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2000 to 2005, we find consistent evidence that higher taxes reduced smoking participation by older adults, especially those who are less educated and live in low-income households. Our findings run contrary to existing evidence which suggests that cessation behavior by older adults is not sensitive to price. Since a large literature suggests smoking cessation even later in life reduces morbidity and increases longevity, our findings may represent substantial gains in health among tax-induced quitters.

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