SMOKING: Higher Tax Effectively Curbs Tobacco Sales
Per capita sales of cigarettes dropped 11.3% in Oregon after the state raised the price of packs 38 cents, the CDC reports in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The average Oregonian smoked 10 fewer packs of cigarettes in 1998 than in 1996 -- evidence, according to the CDC, that increasing the price of cigarettes coupled with tobacco-use prevention programs "can quickly and substantially reduce tobacco use" (Pizacani et al, 2/26 issue). "We know when you just raise the price, fewer people smoke ... but the combined effect (of taxes and prevention programs) is more effective than raising price alone in reducing smoking," said Dr. Jim Marks, director of the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Oregon showed a 2.2% increase in cigarette sales prior to the tax increase, but registered a 6.3% decline attributed solely to the tax, according to the CDC. The AP/Portland Oregonian reports that California and Massachusetts have seen "dramatic curbs" in smoking resulting from stiff taxes and anti-tobacco programs (Mays, 2/26). The Christian Science Monitor reports that the largest decline came in Alaska, which saw per-capita smoking fall 17% after a tax hike to $1-per-pack -- the highest in the nation (Scherer, 2/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.