Cigarette smoking claims plenty of lives, accounting for over 8 million preventable deaths per year. Even more unfortunate is the fact that secondhand smoke claims the lives of around 1.2 million non-smokers yearly.
To urge smokers to start thinking about quitting ciggies, many governments worldwide, including ours, have raised tobacco prices through taxes. This explains why a pack of 20s in the 80s cost around $4 and why that same pack costs about $42 today.
While it does encourage people to stop smoking, it does not effectively address the underlying problem of nicotine addiction – the reason why it’s hard for smokers to quit, even if they recognise how smoking has negatively affected their lungs, overall health, and their wallet.
In this post, we’ll take a look at whether tobacco price increases have helped encourage smokers to quit effectively and if it will still help in the long run.
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Taking Tobacco Away From Youth and the Impoverished
The number of teenagers and impoverished neighbourhoods who were smoking was previously higher because the products were affordable and easily available from nearby tobacconists and groceries.
Definitely, the price increase has discouraged many people from continuing to include cigarettes in their budget – when it’s between food for the family or a pack of cigarettes, most are choosing the former.
Although, one unintended effect of raising tobacco prices are youths steering away from tobacco into illegal nicotine vaping products (NVPs), which tobacconists and convenience stores have been selling under the counter, often to children.
Devastatingly, this push of illicit and dangerous vapes is creating a whole new generation of young nicotine addicts.
An Ever-Growing Void in Any Budget
Without considering the level of poverty in an area, the higher prices of cigarettes surely make a significant impact on any smoker’s budget.
Realising that they can save over $11,000 yearly on an addiction that causes many preventable diseases and pay for college or a huge chunk of their mortgage, many smokers found motivation to quit smoking for good.
Creating Fewer Sale Opportunities
Profit is the only reason why tobacconists, groceries, and convenience stores sell deadly cigarettes and slowly kill their customers. Many retailers opt to sell tobacco in disadvantaged communities because it gives them even higher returns that do not dwindle quickly.
Price increases do motivate more and more people to give up smoking, reducing the number of new retailers opening (and existing ones staying open). While many have switched to selling dangerous and illegal e-cigarettes under the counter to cover their losses, the recent government crackdown may also help decrease their numbers.
Has Raising Cigarette Prices Proven to Work?
We can all admit cash is hard to come by nowadays, and we’re all bootstrapped. Yet, this logical premise that helped make higher cigarette taxes make sense isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem due to the challenges listed below.
Corporations Can Absorb Taxes
Tobacco companies can absorb the increased taxes imposed on their products, preventing the full impact of price increases from reaching consumers.
Companies and Retailers Can Introduce ‘Bite-Size’ Packs
You may have seen smaller packs (or even individual cigarettes) being sold in your local store.
In response to price increases, tobacco companies have started making smaller and cheaper packs, and retailers have even started breaking down packs into individual sticks to make these products more accessible and affordable to their ‘undisclosed’ target markets – Hint: it’s the youth and the impoverished.
High-Income Earners Are Barely Affected
Why start quitting if you can still spend tens of thousands of dollars despite the tax hikes? High-income households with multiple streams of income won’t feel discouraged to quit just because prices have increased now and will rise further later.
The Strength of Nicotine Addiction Surpassing Priorities
Increasing prices don’t always deter addicted smokers from stopping. There have been many instances where disadvantaged people still kept on smoking due to their difficulties in handling withdrawals and quitting smoking entirely.
The Best Way to Quit Smoking
Seeing ciggie prices rise to new heights probably makes you want to think of saving lots of cash by stopping smoking, so here are a few steps to help you get started.
Consult a GP
GPs are the best people to involve in your smoking cessation journey. They can customise a plan that considers the number of ciggies or packs you used to smoke, triggers, and perspective on smoking.
With a GP’s advice paired with suitable quitting tools, you’re well on your way to handling your first-month withdrawals (the strongest and where most smokers relapse) effectively.
But sometimes, lozenges, gums, patches, and inhalers don’t always work. In this instance, GPs may prescribe NVPs from pharmacies. More on this below.
More About Nicotine Vaping Products (NVPs)
Unlike their illegal counterparts, NVPs sold in pharmacies are made under stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking.
These have also been proven to work better than NRTs. The latest Cochrane Review found high-certainty evidence that NVPs are more effective than NRT in helping people stop smoking
It’s great to see governments stepping up to discourage smoking by increasing prices. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to urge smokers to stop smoking for good. Empathy, understanding, and the right tools are the best way to get to the heart of the problem and stop nicotine addiction for good.
You’re probably reading this because you want to stop smoking and save more money. You’ve come to the right place.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.