Research paper
CC-BY-NC 4.0

Have higher cigarette taxes in the United States discouraged smoking? A review of data from 1999-2013

School of Health Sciences,University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2017;3(May):15
Publish date: 2017-05-08
Cigarette smoking continues to be a leading cause of preventable morbidity and premature death in the United States. This study examined the impact of federal and state cigarette excise taxes on adult smoking between 1999 and 2013.

Data came from the National Health Interview Survey, Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System and Tax Burden on Tobacco. Analyses were done from 1999-2013, 2002- 6 and 2009-13. Associations between cigarette taxes, prices and smoking were examined in several states based on cigarette tax: Missouri and Virginia (low tax), Florida, Nebraska and Nevada (median tax) and New York and Rhode Island (high tax).

Smoking declined nationally from 22.8% (1999) to 19.0% (2013) with rates falling from 25.7% to 20.5% in men and 21.5% to 15.3% in women. Annual cigarette consumption (in millions) declined from 432,758 to 280,534 and per capita consumption from 1,621 cigarettes (1999) to 894 cigarettes (2013). Smoking declined across age, gender, race/ethnicity, education and poverty level in 2009-13 compared to 2002-6 with large reductions in states with higher cigarette taxes. Negative correlations between cigarette tax and smoking, and positive correlations between cigarette tax and price, were seen.

Higher cigarette taxes appear to have had a negative impact on smoking in the US. Our data suggest that states with higher cigarette taxes have lower smoking rates than states with lower taxes. Tax measures are however implemented as part of a comprehensive tobacco control package and further research is needed to assess the relative contribution of cigarette tax on smoking reductions in the states examined.

Ben Musumba Wamamili   
School of Health Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 8041 New Zealand