Stories tagged smoking cessation

Apr
01
2009

You're charging me how much?: Even big shots like Bogart are taking note of the large increase in cigarette taxes that are going into effect today.
You're charging me how much?: Even big shots like Bogart are taking note of the large increase in cigarette taxes that are going into effect today.Courtesy Yousuf Karsh / Library and Archives Canada
What do you get when taxes on a pack of cigarettes jump 250 percent? Lots of calls to smoking cessation programs.

Today, the federal tax on a pack of cigarettes jumps from 39 cents a pack to $1.01 The national average price for a pack of cigarettes prior to the tax hike was $5.

In the past, a 10 percent hike in cigarette tax translated into a four-percent increase in people quitting smoking. Health experts expect those numbers to climb even higher with today’s hefty tax hike. One number being tossed around is a nine-percent decline in smoking with the new tax.

Prior to the tax hike, public consumption of cigarettes had been dropping about three percent per year. That drop, experts point out, includes people who outright quit and those who cut back on their smoking.

Smoking cessation hotlines have seen a huge spike in business in recent days. An Omaha office has seen its call traffic go up 50 percent this week. An office in Michigan has seen its annual budget already dry up after having fielded three times as many calls this year as it had in all of 2008.

There’s an interesting political twist to this cigarette tax increase, whose new revenue will be used to fund a national children’s health insurance program. Congress approved the tax increase last year, but President George W. Bush vetoed the bill. President Barack Obama, who has struggled to stop smoking himself, signed a new version of the bill shortly after taking office this year.

What do you think of these causes and effects on a cigarette tax? Is a “sin tax” like this a good way to drive public health policy reform? Or this an abuse of government power interfering with people’s private lives? Share your viewpoint here with other Science Buzz readers.

Dec
11
2007

A climb in quitting: Minnesota's recent smoking ban has led to increases in several measures of ways that people try to stop smoking.
A climb in quitting: Minnesota's recent smoking ban has led to increases in several measures of ways that people try to stop smoking.Courtesy Saudi...
I had some fun on the eve of the start of the state smoking ban in October with a post about how Ireland’s accordions are cleaner now that the smoking is not allowed in public places.

That post generated a lot of debate on if a state should be involved in regulating people’s health habits. Now comes this headline in today’s Star-Tribune: Since the smoking ban started, efforts by people to quit smoking in Minnesota have jumped significantly.

How do we know this? There’s a lot more action on the stop-smoking efforts.

Blue Cross-Blue Shield reports a 43 percent jump in traffic on its telephone hotline used for people wanting immediate support in their effort to quit. And during the month of the start of the smoking ban, there was a tripling in the sales of nicotine patches and other quitting aids by members of the same health plan.

Blue Cross is not alone -- insurer Medica has seen a 40 percent climb in its members wanting to use smoking cessation counseling programs.

What’s going on with all of this? It may be too early to tell yet, but cessation advocates say that the smoking ban especially targets younger people. The ban doesn’t allow for smoking in bars or nightclubs, and younger people often like to smoke when they’re out partying. Now, if young smokers want to be out on the nightlife scene, they have to divide their time with inside reveling and outdoor smoking, experts surmise. Non-smokers get to stay inside where the action is.

And they’re careful to note that quitting smoking is a long, hard process. Successful quitters usually have to try quitting a number of times before they’re unhooked. But the advocates say that it’s a nice, early, unintended consequence so early in the smoking ban’s life.

Here are some tips on how to stop smoking from another recent Science Buzz posting.

Nov
14
2007

Butt out: Just think, if you quit smoking you won't have to deal with messes like this any more.
Butt out: Just think, if you quit smoking you won't have to deal with messes like this any more.Courtesy fragglerawker_03
Let’s stir up the smoking discussions again. After all, the Great American Smokeout is tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 15). That’s the day that the American Lung Association encourages people to stop smoking.

And this year, the Smokeout folks are letting you use the telephone to help smokers get started on quitting. During Smokeout day, callers to 1-800-QUIT-NOW will get to talk to a live person who will share tips on how to successfully quit smoking.

And here’s other healthful news to celebrate: for the first time ever, the U.S. now has more former smokers in the population than current smokers.

Here’s some other stopping smoking points to consider:

• Most people attempting to quit fail on their first attempt. But success rates are much higher on successive tries to quit.

• Cessation aids -- like patches, gums, non-prescription drugs, acupuncture or other outside helps – are no more than 50 percent effective in helping people stop smoking. Counselors suggest that they can help, but also need to be mixed with personal motivation within the quitter. Among the aids, checking in at the highest success rate level is Pfizer’s Chantix, at 44 percent. Nicotine patches and gum are effective in about 20 percent of quitting attempts. Other aids trickle off from there, with success rates between five and two percent.

• Another effective tactic, tell people you’re quitting. Just like peer pressure often gets people into smoking; peer pressure can help them to stop.

Do you want to quick smoking? What are the hang-ups? Have you successfully kicked the habit? What turned the trick for you? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.