Study: Raising Cigarette Prices Means People Drink Less Beer & Booze

For those who drink and smoke, it’s no surprise that often, the more you smoke, the more you end up drinking, and vice versa. So it follows that when state taxes make cigarettes more expensive, you might be inclined to smoke less, and as such, you might end up drinking less beer and whiskey as a result. That’s the effect rising cigarette prices have on alcohol consumption (except for wine), say researchers in a new study that looks at consumption habits of smokers and drinkers.

Pointing to previous studies that say increasing taxes on cigarettes causes people to cut back a bit, NPR’s Health Shots blog brings up a new study that when that happens, those who smoke and drink end up drinking less as well.

In the study published today in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers note that this effect only pertains to beer and spirits. That’s because wine drinkers are usually prone to healthier habits than others, the authors say.

“[The results] made sense to us because prior research shows that wine drinkers are less likely to smoke,” Melissa Krauss, a data analyst at the Washington University School of Medicine and one of the authors of the study, tells Shots.

The researchers looked at data spanning from 1980 to 2009 on how much alcohol people drank in each state per person, as well as the states’ prices for a pack of cigarettes. Smoke-free air policies were also included in the research on a state-by-state basis.

After going through the information, researchers saw that as taxes went up and more states introduced smoke-free policies, alcohol consumption went down. Those states with the highest tax hikes had the most pronounced dip in drinking, by 26%, compared to 5% in states with low tax increases.

“We already know that strengthening tobacco policies has great benefit in reducing smoking prevalence,” Krauss told Shots. “This shows that there are unintended consequences that are having good public health benefits as well.”

When Cigarettes Cost More, People Drink Less. Except For Wine [NPR Shots Health News]