Investigating the effects of the 2007 Texas tobacco tax increase on the smoking behavior of adults
Smoking is major cause of premature mortality and morbidity in the United States. The health consequences of tobacco usage are increasingly concentrated in minority and lower socioeconomic groups. One of the most effective means of deterring tobacco consumption and generating revenue to fund prevention activities is the levying of excise taxes. In 2007 the state of Texas increased the excise tax on cigarettes by $1.00 per pack. This study sought to determine if there was a significant effect on smoking prevalence in the state by examining Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data for two years leading up to the tax increase-2005 and 2006- and two years post tax increase -2007 and 2008. Results were compared against a chi square distribution and three multiple logistic regression models were created to adjust for race/ethnicity, age, education and income. Results from this study show that there was not a significant decrease in smoking prevalence for most of the groups stratified by age, income and ethnicity. There was not a significant decrease in the younger adults aged 18-34 by income, ethnicity, or education. Smoking prevalence increased for some groups, e.g., Hispanic females. In the regression models, the tax effect was not significant. While overall prevalence decreased by 9%, there were not significant reductions among non-White or Hispanic survey participants. Taxed sales dropped by approximately 17% according to the Texas Comptroller. Without BRFSS data measuring daily cigarette consumption among current smokers, now not assessed, it is impossible to determine whether the discrepancy in reported prevalence and taxes sales is attributable to consumption of fewer cigarettes among smokers or tax avoidance.
0630: Public policy