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Will new tobacco tax make people quit smoking?

Will new tobacco tax make people quit smoking?

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Jul. 1, 2010 at 7:20 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Starting Thursday, it will cost more to smoke. A new tobacco tax goes into effect, raising the price of a pack of cigarettes up a dollar.

Some doctors say most smokers want to quit. Paying more money to smoke may just convince them to drop the habit.

"We find that something like a tobacco tax is a great cue," says Dr. Tamara Lewis, community health and prevention medical director for Intermountain Health Care. "What it does, it helps people rethink and reevaluate."


We find that something like a tobacco tax is a great cue. What it does, it helps people rethink and reevaluate.

–Dr. Tamara Lewis


Lewis says she has seen studies showing an up to 10-percent drop in smokers for every dollar increase in tobacco tax.

With Utah spending close to $345 million just on health-related costs, according to Lewis' data, any drop in active smokers would be welcome.

For anyone who wants to quit, Lewis says now is a good time.

"What we really want to do is encourage them and say, this is the time to go to your physician. Look to some of the new therapies out there and get the support you need because you can succeed," she says.

People who have tried to stop smoking and failed can tell you it's extremely hard to do. Lewis says there is only a 3- to 5-percent success rate for people going cold turkey.

But, she says newer therapies are proving much more effective.

"We've had upwards of 15 to 50 percent [success rate], depending on the therapy for individuals who are using some of the new medications and the counseling," Lewis says.

Quitting will still be hard, but, at least your odds are better than before.

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E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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