News / Health

Taxes Provide Best Incentive to Stop Smoking

Taxes Provide Best Incentive to Stop Smokingi
Carol Pearson
May 29, 2014 10:51 PM
A lot of smokers start using cigarettes when they are teenagers, only to find later on that they can't kick the habit. It's a huge public health concern. As a result, researchers the world over, in government and in private institutions, are working on ways to help people stop smoking. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Carol Pearson
A lot of smokers start using cigarettes when they are teenagers, only to find later on that they can't kick the habit.  It's a huge public health concern. As a result, researchers the world over, in government and in private institutions, are working on ways to help people stop smoking.  

In Joanna Cohen's office at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Global Tobacco Control, cigarettes come in all types of packages....some are gruesome, while others are beautiful.

With advertising restrictions in so many countries, cigarette companies are using the packages as advertising tools.  Governments use them to discourage smoking.  Researchers like Cohen say taxes are the best incentive in cutting back on smoking.

"Taxes are a win-win situation. Smokers smoke less and governments increase their revenue so taxes are our most effective strategy and a win-win proposition," said Cohen.

The World Health Organization is urging governments to increase taxes on tobacco products.

The WHO says higher taxes are especially effective in reducing tobacco use among lower income groups and in preventing young people from starting.

The organization says a 10 percent tax increase reduces tobacco use by 4 percent in high income countries, and by up to 8 percent in most low- and middle income countries.

Statistics show there are a billion smokers in the world, almost one out of five people. Tobacco kills up to half of its users.

Some people say if tobacco were banned, they wouldn't smoke at all.

"I’ve been a smoker for 38 years.  It’s something that’s so hard for me to stop on my own," said a smoker.

Others say they are so addicted they have to smoke, even if they know the health risks.

"One of the worst addictions in the world is cigarette smoking. Inside my heart, something’s telling me to quit.  It’s not the right thing to do to my body and the ones around me," said another.

Joanna Cohen says governments also have to introduce more strategies so those trying to stop can be more successful.

"Seventy percent of smokers say they want to quit. We just need to figure out stategies to help support people in quitting in terms of reducing cues, making the product more inaccessible, harder to get, more expensive and less advertising, less promotion, those sorts of things," she said.

Public health experts expect deaths from tobacco use to increase in the years to come, especially in low- and middle income countries, where most of the burden of tobacco-related disease is expected to occur.

These experts are hopeful, however, that as proven strategies to prevent smoking are introduced, fewer people will take up the habit.

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Comment Sorting
by: Pascal from: Netherlands
June 04, 2014 9:35 AM
We're a group of Experimental Psychologists that developed a simple online task to help people quit smoking. We'd encourage anyone currently stuck in their addiction to give it a go at

by: Mike Adams
May 31, 2014 10:38 AM
Why are Cigarettes the only "sin" that is taxed so high? Why not equal the scale & tax the same amount for: Alcohol, Cigars, Dip, Drugs, Fatty & Sugary Foods, & Weed! It's only fair~

by: harleyrider1978 from: nashville tn
May 30, 2014 10:41 AM
Smokers are cutting back on food to fund their craving
Just what lengths smokers will go to to feed their habit is borne out in a separate study by Pfizer Ireland which found:
- 10% cut back on buying food
- 35% said they cut down on eating out
- 24% pulled out of social engagements
- 22% also said that they cut back on holidays to avoid cutting their smoking budget.
More than half of the smokers interviewed admitted to spending between €50 and €100 per week on cigarettes.
Former Cork senior footballer Dan Dineen, a 47-year-old plumber, is a prime example of the lengths smokers will go to.
At the height of his habit he sold his beloved Harley Davidson to fund an addiction that was costing €800 a month.

by: Monika Wahi from: Boston, MA
May 30, 2014 6:03 AM
I agree, but this looks fishy to me. Why is tobacco a legal crop at all? We don't have to tax meth, coke, heroin, because they have been deemed too dangerous to be legal. This is just another way for governments to enslave people by getting them addicted to something expensive that is taxed.
In Response

by: Mistairhead from: Portage
May 30, 2014 10:29 AM
Tax hikes do work, that is the problem, because what happens when they governments are not getting as much revenue from smokers...what might they start taxing next air?

by: Regula from: USA
May 30, 2014 3:43 AM
The health issues of smoking could be greatly reduced if use of pesticides and additive chemicals were prohibited. Smoke has its negative effect - but it is relatively mild in comparison to the effect of the chemicals like artificial fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides used in tobacco production. Also, additives which increase addiction should be prohibited. These steps would go a long way to restore smoking to the pleasure it once was, before it became an almost insurmountable addiction.

The endless taxing and vilification of tobacco doesn't really address the true problems of this epoch: pollution of air, water and food.

People have smoked since time immemorial, without the adverse health consequences smoking has today. The same way that people since time immemorial ate red meat, pork and sausages, without the adverse effects these foods have today.

As long as the chemical industry is allowed to adulterate just about every item used in life, from water, food to furniture, clothes, kitchen utensils, to smoking and beyond, smoking is made into a scape goat to obfuscate the much larger problem, which is the overload of toxic chemicals in today's everyday life.

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