SUNDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Boosting cigarette taxes can
cause smoking rates to plummet among people struggling with
alcohol, drug and/or mental disorders, new research suggests.
The study authors found that raising the price of cigarettes by
just 10 percent translates into more than an 18 percent drop in
smoking among such individuals.
"Whatever we can do to reduce smoking is critical to the health of the U.S.," Dr. Michael Ong, a researcher at the Jonsson Cancer Center at the University of California Los Angeles, said in a news release. "Cigarette taxes are used as a key policy instrument to get people to quit smoking, so understanding whether people will really quit is important. Individuals with alcohol, drug or mental disorders comprise 40 percent of remaining smokers, and there is little literature on how to help these people quit smoking."
Ong and his colleagues reported their findings online May 13 in
advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the
American Journal of Public Health.
The authors noted that smoking is the leading cause of death in
the United States.
The current finding stems from a 2000-2001 survey of more than
7,500 men and women, about 23 percent of whom had an alcohol, drug
or mental health disorder in the year prior to being polled.
More than four in 10 in that subgroup were smokers, which the
authors pointed out is a much higher percentage of smokers than is
found among the general public.
Those who were alcohol-dependent did not reduce their cigarette
consumption in response to price increases, Ong and his team
observed. However, smokers who had binge-drinking problems,
substance-abuse problems or mental health disorders were found to
be more likely to kick the habit altogether if prices rose.
Nevertheless, the authors cautioned that more research is needed
in order to confirm the price-habit connection among these
particular groups of smokers.
For more on quitting smoking, visit the
American Heart Association.