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Higher cigarette taxes may not benefit anti-smoking drive: Study

Over the past 50 years, regulators and advocacy groups have increasingly used counter-marketing tools to discourage cigarette consumption

IANS  |  New York 

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

Increasing may have the unintended consequence of driving consumers to higher content and more dangerous cigarette products, says a new study co-authored by an

Given the addictive properties of nicotine, increasing per package increases addiction levels for some consumers, the findings showed.

"While taxes are the most effective technique for reducing smoking rates, we find that this tool has a significant downside," said one of the researchers Vishal Singh from

"Because are currently applied at the per pack level and without regard to levels, consumers may respond to increasing by switching to higher products," Singh pointed out.

"In other words, if consumers desire to minimise the cost per unit of nicotine, then increasing may lead some consumers to shift to higher products," he explained.

Over the past 50 years, regulators and advocacy groups have increasingly used counter-marketing tools to discourage cigarette consumption.

Excise taxes are used to increase prices faced by consumers. Educational advertising is used to increase awareness of health risks and decrease preferences for the category. Smoke-free policies are used to make cigarette consumption less convenient.

For the study, the researchers conducted analysis on nationwide data about store sales and examined populations of consumers that are exposed to different tax rates, advertising levels, and smoking prohibitions.

In addition, data from the allowed the researchers to examine the effectiveness of counter-marketing across consumers of different socio-economic levels.

The researchers found that the different techniques varied in terms of effectiveness.

Importantly, the authors found that this unintended consequence of was more likely to occur in poorer neighbourhoods. The study was published in the journal

First Published: Thu, October 29 2015. 14:00 IST
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