Trying to Break the Smoking Habit? A $1 Price Increase May Help, Study Says

Holding a cigarette.
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Cigarette smoking is a health-harming habit that many, unfortunately, find difficult to give up.

One factor that may help some kick the habit, however, is cost.

A recent study from Drexel University found that a dollar increase in the cost of cigarettes makes smokers 20% more likely to quit.

Researchers analyzed the habits of over 600 smokers from 2001 to 2012. They came from six different cities and ranged in age from 44 to 84.

“Given our findings, if an additional one dollar was added to the U.S. tobacco tax, it could amount to upwards of one million fewer smokers,” Amy Auchincloss, one of the study’s co-authors, said in an article in Drexel Now.

The study also found that heavy smokers (those who smoked more than half a pack daily) reduced the average amount of cigarettes they smoked each day by 35% with a $1 increase in price.

“Since heavy smokers smoke more cigarettes per day initially, they may feel the impact of a price increase to a greater degree and be more likely to cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoke on a daily basis,” Stephanie Mayne, another of the study’s co-authors, said in the Drexel Now article.

Even though the study focused on older smokers, Mayne said she thinks a price increase on cigarettes would have a similar or more significant effect on younger smokers.

The cost of a pack of cigarettes ranges from location to location. According to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lowest average cost of a pack — including taxes — was $5.06 in Missouri, and the highest was $10.56 in New York.

Of course, I probably don’t have to tell you that the true cost of smoking goes well beyond the price of a pack of cigarettes. Smoking is linked to a host of health problems — lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary heart disease, stroke and more — which only increases the cost of health care for many smokers.

In fact, the CDC reports almost $170 billion is spent each year on direct medical care for adults due to smoking.

There are even reports that claim smokers have a harder time finding work and earn less on the job than nonsmokers.

Smoking is truly an addiction, which causes many to struggle with quitting, despite the negative physical and financial impacts. For free resources, tools and tips to help you quit, visit Smokefree.gov.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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