Intensive tobacco control measures can sharply reduce smoking rates

Comprehensive tobacco control efforts, including raising cigarette taxes, making workplaces smoke free and offering free and readily accessible nicotine patches, have a widespread impact on lowering smoking rates.

According to a study of the impact of tobacco control measures in New York City, smoking prevalence among adult residents dropped by 11 percent from 2002-2003 after the city implemented a sweeping tobacco control strategy. That strategy includes increased cigarette excise taxes; legal action that made virtually all workplaces, including bars and restaurants, smoke free; increased cessation services, including a large-scale nicotine patch program; education; and evaluation. The resulting decrease meant 140,000 fewer people smoked in the year following the tobacco control implementation.

In California, where a tobacco-tax increase already helped the state’s smoking rate drop a decade earlier, an additional 50-cent-per-pack state cigarette tax that went into effect in 1999 and a 45-cent-per-pack increase stemming from the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 helped reduce cigarette consumption in the state by 2.4 packs per capita per quarter.

[From: “ Adult Tobacco Use Levels After Intensive Tobacco Control Measures: New York City, 2002-2003.” Contact: Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, N.Y., [email protected] Also from: “A Major State Tobacco Tax Increase, the Master Settlement Agreement, and Cigarette Consumption: The California Experience.” Contact: Hai-Yen Sung, PhD, Institute for Health and Aging, University of California at San Francisco, [email protected]]

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