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Higher cigarette taxes can bring complications, but also new opportunities | Events

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Higher cigarette taxes can bring complications, but also new opportunities
Events, Health
Higher cigarette taxes can bring complications, but also new opportunities

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products is often considered a way to reduce smoking and improve public health, but according to a new study in part from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, evidence of effectiveness is sparse.

As stated in the abstract, "the association between cigarette taxes and either smoking participation or smoking intensity is negative, small, and not usually statistically significant," and that large tax increases would be needed -- as much as 100 percent -- to reduce smoking by a mere 5 percent.

Another complication involves funding. According to a report by the American Lung Association titled "State of Tobacco Control 2013", states received more than $25 billion from state excise taxes on various tobacco products in addition to payments from a 1998 anti-smoking agreement made with tobacco companies. However, in fiscal year 2013, states spent only $462.5 million of the funds on smoking prevention. Prevention and cessation programs won't work without the needed funding.

Fortunately, healthcare providers, the technology industry and even large tobacco companies are developing alternatives that help address the issue and improve health. Some local providers are offering their own smoking cessation services, such as Mercy Health Saint Mary’s which offers a text messaging service that sends helpful messages to encourage quitting. Spectrum Health is offering cessation classes and programs for those looking to quit.

Aside from cessation, other developments include devices and applications that can reduce dependence on cigarettes or act as a replacement (temporary or permanent). Large tobacco companies including Phillip Morris and Reynolds American are beginning to offer electronic devices that eliminate harmful cigarette smoke. Another example includes devices such as the Arizer Solo being offered by Vapor Experts which heats loose-leaf tobacco to release a vapor free of the harmful chemicals in smoke (a brief description of the vaporization process from an industry perspective can be found here). Devices such as this resemble modern gadgets that appeal to today's consumers.

There are also various apps such as 100plus, which predicts the impact of smoking and other activities on lifespan. Another app called Quitter keeps track of the cost of smoking, providing details on the cost savings from reduced cigarette use.

Despite the debates about raising taxes on cigarettes and the continued attempts to pass related laws, smokers can improve their health with a variety of solutions already offered or being developed. With cigarette use already on the decline, industry developments could have a positive impact on the marketplace, and one's health.

Events, Health