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Young Adults Respond to Cigarette Price Cuts

Armen Hareyan's picture

Youth Smoking Habits

When cigarette prices drop, young people are more likely to pick up the smoking habit, according to a Canadian study of adults age 20 to 24.

After years of tobacco-tax hikes to discourage smoking, the Canadian government and several provinces reversed their tobacco-tax policy in the early 1990s to combat cigarette smuggling. In the five tax-cut provinces, the reduction in price ranged from $14 to $21 per carton (in Canadian dollars).

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"We found that a big decrease in cigarette price resulted in an increase in smoking initiation among young adults," said principal investigator Joanna Cohen.

The study, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, used surveys of nonsmokers in their early 20s to examine the proportion who later became smokers.

"People were interviewed at one point of time, and then another, and in between there was this huge change in price," said Cohen, an assistant professor with the University of Toronto's Department of Public Health Sciences. The 636 Canadians who were surveyed represent more than 1 million young adults.

In tobacco-tax cut provinces