Teenage Smoking: Higher Excise Tax Should Significantly Reduce the Number of Smokers
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC HUMAN RESOURCES DIV
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This report responds a request that we 1describe the extent and consequences of smoking by teenagers and 2 assess the potential impact of an increase in the federal cigarette excise tax on the number of teenage smokers. We briefed your staff on this issue on February 28, 1989, and agreed to present our analysis in this report. Because most adult smokers became addicted when they were teenagers, preventing teen smoking should, overtime, substantially reduce the adult smoking population. Our assessment of the economic literature supports the prediction that increasing the federal excise tax on cigarettes should reduce the number of teenage smokers significantly. Although the size of the reduction is uncertain, we believe a reasonable estimate can be made. If, for example, excise taxes were raised by about 20 cents per pack in 1989, all other factors remaining unchanged, the likely result would be over 500,000 fewer smokers. This would lead, according to one estimate, to about 125,000 premature deaths. Keywords Tobacco smoking Economic analysis Taxes.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Government and Political Science