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Higher cigarette prices are effective in reducing the initiation of regular smoking.

Increases in cigarette prices have been found to decrease adolescent smoking initiation and to prevent young smokers from moving beyond experimentation into regular daily smoking. Price increases can deter young smokers from increasing their level of addiction to nicotine by preventing the move from the category of light smokers (~<5 cigarettes per day) to the category of heavy smokers (~>15 cigarettes per day). Smoking initiation among adolescent males has been found to be much more responsive to changes in cigarette prices than has been initiation among adolescent females. A Canadian study concluded that the likelihood of smoking initiation among young adults aged 20 to 24 years increased after tobacco tax cuts led to lower cigarette prices, and that the magnitude of the impact is related to the size of the price reduction.

Tauras JA, O’Malley P, Johnston L. Effects of Price and Access Laws on Teenage Smoking Initiation: A National Longitudinal Analysis (June 2001). NBER Working Paper No. W8331.

Zhang B, Cohen J, Ferrence R, Rehm J. The impact of tobacco tax cuts on smoking initiation among Canadian young adults. Am J Prev Med. 2006; 30(6): 474-479.

IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Tobacco Control, Vol. 14: Effectiveness of Tax and Price Policies for Tobacco Control. (2011: Lyon, France).

Tauras JA. Can public policy deter smoking escalation among young adults? J Policy Anal Manage. 2005 Fall;24(4):771-84.

Cawley J, Markowitz S, Tauras J. Lighting up and slimming down: the effects of body weight and cigarette prices on adolescent smoking initiation. J Health Econ. 2004 Mar;23(2):293-311. logo
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