The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking rates have fallen from 21 percent of the adult population in 2005 to 15 percent in 2015, when the agency conducted its latest survey. The smoking rate fell by 1.7 percentage points between 2014 and 2015 alone — a substantial decline, according to a report Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Smokers light up less when cigarettes are more expensive. So, more smokers may have been nudged to quit after the federal government increased tobacco taxes by 62 cents a pack in 2009. California voters approved a $2 a pack tax on Election Day, so rates there are likely to fall further.
“Raising the tobacco tax is probably the single most effective way to reduce smoking, especially among kids,” says Vincent Willmore, vice president for communication at the Center for Tobacco Free Kids. That organization and other public health advocates pressed for passage of the California tobacco tax. “The California vote was a huge victory for kids and health,” he says.
The tax will not only discourage people from purchasing cigarettes, it will also fund a renewed anti-smoking effort in the state, Willmore says.
While that initiative won, tobacco control advocates lost similar efforts in Colorado and North Dakota.
The story was topsy-turvy in Missouri, where the tobacco industry actually supported a 17-cent-per-pack tax, while advocates opposed it as too little to discourage smoking. Voters in Missouri rejected that tax.
Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The CDC says it’s linked to 40 percent of all cancer cases, and 30 percent of cancer deaths. The government is striving to reduce smoking rates to 12 percent of the adult population by the year 2020, and is making progress toward that goal.
The latest drop in smoking rates was documented …
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