Poor spend bigger percentage on smoking

Sept. 14, 2012 at 12:32 AM   |   Comments

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- High cigarette taxes are effective at reducing cigarette smoking, but U.S. researchers say they disproportionally burden low-income smokers.

Chief scientist Matthew Farrelly, senior director of RTI International's Public Health Policy Research Program, said the study showed low-income smokers in New York, which has the nation's highest state cigarette tax at $4.35 per pack, spent nearly a quarter of their household income on cigarettes. Nationally, those with the lowest incomes spend about 14 percent, Farrelly said.

The study, published in the journal PLoS One, found smokers in the highest income group, both nationally and in New York, spent just 2 percent of their income on cigarettes, the study found.

The study used data from the New York and national Adult Tobacco Surveys from 2010 to 2011, which included more than 13,000 participants.

"Excise taxes are effective in changing smokers' behavior," Farrelly said in a statement. "But not all smokers are able to quit and low-income smokers are disproportionately burdened by these taxes."

Despite the high taxes, research showed people in the lowest income group continue to smoke at a much higher rate than the higher income groups, Farrelly said.

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