New study shows: more smoking bans and taxes lead to fewer smoking-related deaths

Ad, physicians recommend lucky cigarettes

Cigarette endorsements from physicians in the early 1900’s show the benchmark for the radical shift of the attitude of the medical community, which now unilaterally condemns smoking as a serious health hazard (via Stanford School of Medicine).

Cigarette smoking is considered a drag these days, and much less chic as it once was. Concerns regarding adverse health impacts of smoking have spawned bans in public domains in 27 states and the District of Columbia.  Anti-smoking advocacy has spread internationally as well. Lawmakers in Russia, where 42% of the population smokes, are proposing a boost in cigarette taxes and outlawing smoking in public places by 2015.

Several states impose extra fees on tobacco purchases, known as excise taxes. According to a new study by SmartSign.com, a seller of No Smoking signs, states where smokers are subjected to higher excise taxes have also adopted bans on smoking in public spaces and/or workplaces. For instance, New York charges the steepest tax on cigarettes, while Missouri ranks lowest. In addition, New York is considered to uphold one of the most stringent bans, whereas Missouri has few anti-smoking regulations.

U.S. smoking ban map

Over 50% of states in the US have implemented smoking bans (via American Lung Association).

Similarly, the states with the largest declines in smoking over the past 10 years are the same states that have implemented smoking laws and greater excise taxes. Since Lung Cancer Awareness Month takes place in November, it’s worth mentioning that states without extensive smoking regulations also tend to have the highest rates of lung cancer and mortality. Also, according to SmokingSigns.com, most of the 50,000+ No Smoking sign purchases made on their site have come from states with comprehensive smoking bans, rather than states that don’t adopt anti-smoking laws.

sign: please don't smoke, we'd rather die of natural causes

Secondhand smoke accounts for one in 10 tobacco-related deaths.

With the upcoming presidential election next month, polls and media coverage are scouring data to understand what regulations have actually been effective. And they have been in at least one instance: smoking bans and taxes do appear to be reducing smoking-related deaths. And interestingly, these health benefits are drawn down party lines.

SmartSign.com has released a new trend analysis which juxtaposes their sales-by-state data with the voting results from the 2008 presidential elections. It appears that states with less sign purchases (and fewer regulations) had more smoking deaths and voted Republican, whereas states with increased regulation of smoking and higher sign sale volume had and fewer smoking fatalities and voted Democrat. Will smoking or non-smoking states decide this year’s election? We’ll have to wait until the ballots are counted on November 6th.

 -M. Miles

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