Tax expected to nudge smokers to quit

Tuesday, June 03, 2008 at 12:42:17 PM

Raising the price of cigarettes through a state excise tax is one of the most effective ways of getting smokers to quit, tobacco-control advocates in Greater Binghamton said today.

As a result of the tax, which takes effect in New York today, the price of a pack of cigarettes will go up by $1.25.

We expect the tax increase to prevent more than 243,000 New York kids from ever starting smoking, and cause another 140,000 smokers of all ages to quit for good,” said Richard Terry, D.O., medical director of United Health Services’ Stay Healthy community health program. “This will result in the prevention of more than 37,000 smoking-caused deaths in the state.”

The groups, including Tobacco-Free Broome-Tioga, Reality Check and the TEAM-ACT Cessation Center, say the price increase provides an opportune time and unique incentive to nudge smokers toward quitting.

“Now there is a strong incentive for New York’s 2.8 million smokers to quit, and health care providers are ready to help them,” Dr. Terry said. “This is a doctor’s greatest opportunity to save lives. If we take the time to talk to our patients about smoking and help them to quit, long-term success can be achieved.”

As of today, New York has the highest cigarette tax in the nation, said Christie Finch, chair of Tobacco-Free Broome-Tioga.

“National statistics show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes will reduce youth smoking by about 7 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent,” she said. “In 2002, when the cigarette tax rose from $1.11 to $1.50 a pack, the number of packs sold dropped significantly.”

Smokers don't have to go it alone, cessation leaders say.

Those who want to quit can get help to quit by discussing tobacco use with their physician or other health care provider, by calling the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or by phoning NurseDirect at the Stay Healthy center at 763-5555.

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