Higher cigarette taxes are associated with reduced drinking in men and young adult smokers, a new study suggests.
Men who smoked drank about 10 percent less alcohol per session, and binged about seven fewer times annually, in states with tobacco tax increases, compared with male smokers who lived in states where cigarette taxes stayed the same, according to NBC News.
The study included almost 11,000 people in 31 states that increased cigarette taxes, and a similar number of people who lived in 15 states where cigarette taxes stayed the same.
The findings appear in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
“What our analysis shows is an association between increasing cigarette tax and decreasing [alcohol consumption] among segments of the population, those being male smokers, male hazardous drinkers, and young adult smokers in particular,” study co-author Sherry A. McKee of Yale University Medical School, told NBC News.
The researchers found young adult smokers ages 18 to 29 who lived in states that raised cigarette taxes reduced episodes of binge drinking annually by almost one-fourth.
“Tobacco can enhance the subjective effects of alcohol and has been shown to increase the risk for heavy and problematic drinking,” McKee noted in a news release. She said that 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.
“These findings suggest that if states increase taxes on cigarettes, they are not only likely to reduce smoking – based on a large body of literature – but they also may have a modest impact on heavy drinking rates among men, those with lower income, and those who drink most heavily,” said Christopher W. Kahler of the Brown School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study.