Big cigarette tax hike has more people butting out

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.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Joe's picture
Joe says:

I wonder how the new 51 cigarette will play into this discussion?

posted on Wed, 04/01/2009 - 12:34pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

I've heard that some people using the 51 cigarette here in Minnesota have been kicked out of public places for "lighting" up. The rational by the business owners is that other might see the "fake" cigarette in their mouth and think it's okay to smoke regular cigarettes, which it's not.

posted on Wed, 04/01/2009 - 4:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think that is great news. Now I wont smell cigarrett smoke everywhere I go. The government will have more money to pay its billion-dollar defisits too. Hooray!!!

posted on Wed, 04/01/2009 - 2:50pm
awsome's picture
awsome says:

i think smoking should be banned all together, it does no one good.. :]

posted on Wed, 04/01/2009 - 3:42pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My son Nate is proud to hear that the government is doing something about smoking. One of his grandparents have died and the other has asmia due to smoking.

posted on Thu, 04/02/2009 - 8:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Cigarettes should be outlawed. They kill people.

posted on Sat, 04/18/2009 - 3:37pm

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