Research studies of the effects of tougher U.S. anti-smoking policies.
While adult smoking has decreased by nearly half since 1965, many Americans continue to indulge, regardless of health risks or increased medical costs. This unique compilation of exhaustive, peer-reviewed research, funded by a grant from the American Legacy Foundation, measures the potential social and economic ramifications of a tobacco-free society created via stringent government policy. The authors employ the “SimSmoke” simulation model to project tobacco-control effects through four scenarios: the “baseline” or status quo, where policies do not change; the Institute of Medicine scenario, which, among other things, proposes a $2 per pack excise tax increase to discourage smoking; a “high impact scenario” to reduce smoking rates even more dramatically by mandates such as nicotine reduction in cigarettes; and a “100 percent” scenario, which assumes that smoking ceased in 2006. Readers without scientific inclinations will find the plethora of graphs, tables and equations cumbersome, but the accompanying discussions clearly cover issues such as the economic impact tougher policy will create on tobacco manufacturers and their employees and states like North Carolina, where the highest acreage of tobacco is grown. As with most scientific research, human suffering is reduced to neat statistics. Key findings conclude that, among others, a “small” number of stakeholders—57,000 tobacco farmers and employees, 16,600 cigarette manufacturing employees, 6,200 tobacco store owners and employees, and 29 tobacco dependent counties—could suffer significant losses, yet the authors suggest government assistance in lieu of economic independence. Despite its flaws, the study is noteworthy, as it urges careful thought before policy implementation and examines many social ramifications—inequity for the seriously mentally ill, who may not be able to quit, race and class disparities and stigmatization of smokers.
A provocative book worthy of a careful read.