Higher prices do stop smoking
To the editor:
The Journal’s editorial (“Do sin taxes stop the sinning?” Jan. 30) made some good points but missed others. It referred to recent research from New York, but ignored the most important findings from that study namely, that cigarette tax increases created a much more significant decline in adult smoking there than the rest of the country experienced during the same period. Moreover, New York’s price increases reduced smoking by high-school students by an enormous 38 percent.
There also is recent research from closer to home that might have informed your editorial. In November, my organization released findings from a study examining the top causes of smoking declines in Minnesota since 1993. The study was a collaboration with Georgetown University.
The study found that cigarette price increases were far and away the top driver of smoking declines here. A full 43 percent of declines were attributed to tobacco pricing alone. Other factors included smoke-free public places, educational media campaigns and available quit-smoking programs – and in Minnesota all smokers, including those without insurance, have access to quitting medications and programs through QUITPLAN Services (1-888-354-PLAN or quitplan.com).
Make no mistake, “sin taxes” have saved thousands of lives here in Minnesota, and have the potential to save tens of thousands more over the next 30 years. We have not had a significant cigarette tax increase at the state level since 2005, and just this week new research suggested Minnesota may be backsliding in our progress to reduce smoking rates. Raising the price would be an important step in the right direction, and Minnesotans should support it.
Senior Communications Manager
(ClearWay Minnesota is a statewide nonprofit that works to reduce tobacco’s harm.)