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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cigarettes Taxes May Reduce Drinking

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Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol often go hand and hand, both products are heavily taxed. Alcohol and cigarettes are silent deadly partners responsible for taking more lives every year than any other preventable cause of death. New research has shown that cigarette taxes may help reduce drinking in certain groups, according to this new study.

"Smoking and heavy drinking co-occur at alarmingly high rates," said Sherry McKee, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine as well as corresponding author for the study.

"Tobacco can enhance the subjective effects of alcohol and has been shown to increase the risk for heavy and problematic drinking. Smokers drink more frequently and more heavily than non-smokers, and are substantially more likely than non-smokers to meet criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. The co-occurrence of smoking and drinking is of particular clinical significance given evidence that health consequences exponentially increase with combined versus singular abuse of alcohol and tobacco."

"Smoking and drinking are strongly linked for a host of reasons including complementary pharmacologic effects, shared neuronal pathways, shared genetic associations, common environmental factors, and learned associations," added Christopher W. Kahler, professor and chair of the department of behavioral and social sciences at Brown School of Public Health. "However, it is possible to intervene through behavioral treatments, pharmacotherapy, and policy to affect both behaviors in a positive way."

"Cigarette taxes have broad population reach and have been recognized as one of the most significant policy instruments to reduce smoking," said McKee. "Increases in cigarette taxes predict decreases in smoking initiation, increases in quitting, and reductions in cigarette-related morbidity and mortality. By increasing the price of cigarettes, taxes are thought to encourage smokers to reduce their use of cigarettes or quit altogether, and discourage non-smokers from starting to smoke."

Data gathered through personal interviews with 21,473 users of alcohol as part the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) was observed by McKee and her colleagues.

Increases in cigarette taxes between Waves I (2001-2002) and II (2004-2005) were analyzed and were found to be associated with reductions in quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption. The analyses look at:
  • Gender
  • Hazardous Drinking Status
  • Age
  • Income Group
  • Demographics
  • Baseline Alcohol Consumption
  • Alcohol Price
Results will be published in the January 2014 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental.
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