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Keywords:

  • Cigarette Tax;
  • Alcohol;
  • Longitudinal;
  • Smokers;
  • Hazardous Drinking;
  • Sex

Background

Cigarette taxation has been recognized as one of the most significant policy instruments to reduce smoking. Smoking and drinking are highly comorbid behaviors, and the public health benefits of cigarette taxation may extend beyond smoking-related outcomes to impact alcohol consumption. The current study is the first to test whether increases in cigarette taxes are associated with reductions in alcohol consumption among smokers using a large, prospective U.S. sample.

Methods

Our sample included 21,473 alcohol consumers from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to evaluate whether increases in cigarette taxes between Waves 1 (2001 to 2002) and 2 (2004 to 2005) were associated with reductions in quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption, adjusting for demographics, baseline alcohol consumption, and alcohol price. Stratified analyses were conducted by sex, hazardous drinking status, and age and income group.

Results

Increases in cigarette taxes were associated with modest reductions in typical quantity of alcohol consumption and frequency of binge drinking among smokers. Cigarette taxation was not associated with changes in alcohol consumption among nonsmokers. In analyses stratified by sex, the inverse associations of cigarette taxes with typical quantity and binge drinking frequency were found only for male smokers. Further, the inverse association of cigarette taxation and alcohol consumption was stronger among hazardous drinkers (translating into approximately 1/2 a drink less alcohol consumption per episode), young adult smokers, and smokers in the lowest income category.

Conclusions

Findings from this longitudinal, epidemiological study suggest increases in cigarette taxes are associated with modest to moderate reductions in alcohol consumption among vulnerable groups. Additional research is needed to further quantify the public health benefits of cigarette taxation on alcohol consumption and to evaluate the potential broader crossover effects of cigarette taxation on other health behaviors.