(NEW YORK) — A new report by the Congressional Budget Office, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, says raising cigarette taxes by just 50 cents could save lives. The report estimates that if the tax is implemented, 200,000 cigarette-related deaths could be avoided.
Dr. John Spangler with the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Wintston-Salem, N.C. says this method has worked in the past.
“Research has consistently shown that as you raise the cigarette tax, you decrease use,” he says. “Every state that has increased their cigarette taxes have noted a drop in cigarette consumption.”
“In fact, for every 10-cent increase in cigarette tax, it’s been shown that there’s a three- to five-percent decrease in cigarette consumption or smoking by both adults and youth,” Spangler adds.
But the higher cost may not be enough for some heavily addicted smokers to kick the habit, according to Spangler.
“To really help them quit and to reduce their tobacco use, you really do need to provide them with smoking cessation devices.”
Initially the tax could save about $730 million in federal health care spending dollars, cutting a significant portion of the nation’s deficit, according to the CBO report. However, with more people living longer because of this tax, federal spending would eventually be higher than it would have been otherwise.
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