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Taxing Cigarettes Can Curb Heavy Drinking

Update Date: Aug 10, 2013 11:09 AM EDT

Alcohol and drug abuse are often interlinked. Studies have found that people who smoke tend to also consume more alcohol. The combination of these two substances can take a toll on health as well as people's mental states. Abusing drugs and alcohol can lead to poorer life decisions, which in turn leads to more mental health decline. Since these two factors are often associated with one another, a new study researched ways of preventing people who are high risk for becoming heavy drinkers by looking into tobacco use. In this study, researchers found that cigarette taxations could help curb heavy drinking.

"Smoking and heavy drinking co-occur at alarmingly high rates," said Sherry McKee, associate professor of psychiatry
at Yale University School of Medicine as well as corresponding author for the study. "Tobacco can enhance the subjective effects of alcohol and has been shown to increase the risk for heavy and problematic drinking. Smokers drink more frequently and more heavily than non-smokers, and are substantially more likely than non-smokers to meet criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. The co-occurrence of smoking and drinking is of particular clinical significance given evidence that health consequences exponentially increase with combined versus singular abuse of alcohol and tobacco."

For this study, the researchers looked at the data compiled from interviews of 21,473 participants who were a part of the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which was conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The participants were alcohol consumers. The researchers looked specifically at the effects of cigarette taxations between two waves. Wave number one occurred from 2001 to 2002 and wave number two took place from 2004 to 2005.

The researchers discovered that when states increased cigarette taxation, they were able to decrease alcohol intake. The researchers noted that higher taxes on cigarettes appear to affect high-risk groups the most. Young males with lower incomes experienced a reduction in alcohol consumption significantly. The researchers believe that this association could help with the creation of new programs that could effectively curb smoking and drinking.

The study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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