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Policies to Limit Smoking Reduce Alcohol Use Too

Science Highlight

November 13, 2014

Whisky and cigarette

Increasing excise taxes on cigarettes and restricting where they can be smoked in public through smoke-free air (SFA) laws are known to reduce smoking, and some, but not all, research has suggested that these same measures may have an effect on alcohol use as well. To study this question and clarify whether the effects are limited to certain beverages, a team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine modeled per capita consumption of total alcohol and specific alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, spirits) in each U.S. state as a function of cigarette price per pack and SFA policies in each state, across nearly three decades (1980-2009). They found that raising cigarette prices, stricter SFA laws, or both were associated with significantly diminished total alcohol consumption and with lower beer and spirits consumption, but not lower wine consumption; cigarette price had a stronger impact in the first half of the study period, while SFA laws had a greater impact in the second half. The authors suggest, based on their analysis, that raising cigarette price by 20 percent would reduce per capita alcohol consumption by almost 2 percent, and that banning smoking in bars, restaurants, and workplaces in a state would reduce alcohol consumption by 6 to 7 percent (relative to no smoking restrictions).

Study:

Effects of State Cigarette Excise Taxes and Smoke-Free Air Policies on State Per Capita Alcohol Consumption in the United States, 1980 to 2009, Melissa J. Krauss, Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, Andrew D. Plunk, Laura J. Bierut, and Richard A. Grucza. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Oct;38(10):2630-8. doi: 10.1111/acer.12533. Epub 2014 Sep 24
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25257814

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