Increasing the price of cigarettes could be a viable solution that can help people quit smoking. Findings of a new study have revealed that smokers are 20 percent more likely to kick the unhealthy habit with just a $1 hike in cigarette prices.
Effect Of Cigarette Price Hike On Older Smokers
In the study published in the August issue of the journal Epidemiology, Stephanie Mayne, from Drexel University, and colleagues used neighborhood-level price data spanning 10 years to determine how cigarette prices affect smokers.
The study involved smokers whose age ranged from 44 to 84 years old. Mayne explained that older adult smokers have been smokers for a long time and are less likely to quit smoking compared with younger populations. The smoking behavior in this age group of smokers is deeply entrenched and difficult to change.
The findings, however, showed that increases in the price of cigarettes were linked to smoking cessation among older smokers. Besides finding that smokers were 20 percent more likely to quit the unhealthy habit if the price of a cigarette pack rose by one dollar, the researchers also found a 3 percent overall drop in smoking risk.
When Mayne and colleagues narrowed down the data to focus on the heavy smokers, they found that price hike is linked to a 7 percent reduction in smoking risk, and a 35 percent reduction in the average number of cigarettes smoked daily.
Mayne said that since heavy smokers tend to smoke more cigarettes daily initially, they may feel the effect of the increase in cigarette prices to a greater degree and become more likely to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke per day.
Although the data focused on smokers older than 44 years old, the researchers think that the effect of the price hike may be similar or even possibly stronger in younger smokers.
"Some research suggests younger adults may be more price-sensitive than older adults," Mayne said.
Increasing Price Of Cigarettes May Encourage Smokers To Quit Smoking
Smoking is responsible for nearly one in every five deaths in the United States, figures from the American Cancer Society show. Some health groups recommend e-cigarette as a smoking cessation tool but the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit remain a subject of debates. The researchers of the new study said that the findings suggest that increasing the prices of cigarettes could be a good strategy for encouraging smokers of all ages to quit smoking.
"Results underscore the importance of local prices, but not hospitality smoking bans, in influencing older adults' smoking behaviors," the researchers wrote in their study.