Tax hikes on cigarettes have proven to drop tobacco consumption. No shock there; if something costs more, people tend to limit purchases. But research released Friday suggests that higher cigarette taxes are also associated with reduced alcohol consumption, at least among male and young adult smokers.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 46 million Americans both smoke and drink. And past research has shown that “smokers drink more,” Ali Yurasek, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Memphis who’s studied the link, told NBC News.
The new study — conducted by researchers from Yale, Stanford and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, and published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research — compared almost 11,000 people in 31 states that increased cigarette taxes between the 2001-2002 period and the 2004-2005 period, with a similar number of people from 15 states in which taxes remained the same.
Using reported alcohol consumption between the two time periods as captured by the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, the researchers were able to track any differences.
“What our analysis shows is an association between increasing cigarette tax and decreasing [alcohol consumption] among segments of the population, those being male smokers, male hazardous drinkers, and young adult smokers in particular,” Sherry A. McKee, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University Medical School, and one of the study’s authors, said in an interview.