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Putting out the fires: will higher taxes reduce youth smoking? | Philip DeCicca, Donald Kenkel, Alan Mathios
Article Published: circa 1999

Type: Articles and Dissertations
Funding Source: Financial support from the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center, Cornell University, and the National Cancer Institute, grant number R01-CA77005-01
Published By: Department of Economics in its series Papers with number 00-3

Further Information

Pushed by the cumulative and, unfortunately, widely unchallenged disinformation of the effects of smoking on health, the obsession with smoking reduction went into high gear about 25 years ago. One of the preferred ways to “induce” young people to stop smoking (or not to start) was that of “making it too expensive” for them to buy cigarettes, and in that way to pilot their choices through economics.

This paper, written at the beginning of this century, caters to many of the superstitions and prejudices against smoking, and seriously analyzes the (at the time) future effects of super-taxation of a good that actually costs pennies to produce by the pack. Will high taxation reduce youth smoking? The predictions of the paper are not favourable.

Nearly ten years later, in fact, we can see that the predictions of this paper are correct, as we have not seen any significant reduction in youth smoking in spite of the brainwashing propaganda in schools and in the media and the simply criminal taxation – a reassuring indication that the current generation of youngsters is much more resistant to propaganda and disinformation than many adults are.

Be that as it may, it did not — and does not — take much intelligence to predict that high cost of cigarettes only fill the state's coffers and the antismoking disinformation industry. It does not reduce youth smoking: a generation that has no problem in spending hundreds or thousands of dollars io new electronics every year — let alone the purchase, unfortunately, of very expensive drugs — has no probem whatsoever in spending a few dollars a day more for the enjoyable habit of smoking. Some of the kids, of course, find discount sources, as do adults as well.

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