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Higher cigarette taxes make people drink less

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A rise in cigarette taxes can obviously lead to lower tobacco consumption, but a recent research suggested that higher cigarette taxes are also connected with the reduction of alcohol consumption among male and young adult smokers.

The study, published Friday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, compared about 11,000 people in 31 states in America that raised cigarette taxes between the 2001-2002 period and the 2004-2005 period, with a similar number of people from 15 states in which taxes remained the same.

The result showed that male smokers in states with higher tobacco tax drank almost 10 percent less alcohol and reduced seven times of their drunken revelry per year than those in the states with the same tax rate.

Young adult smokers between the age of 18 and 29 in states with higher cigarette taxes skipped nearly one-quarter of their binge drinking per year than the others.

"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," said Sherry A. McKee, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University Medical School, and one of the study's authors.

Lab studies with animals have also shown the link between nicotine and alcohol. Researchers found that exposing a key part of the brain involved in reward and motivation to nicotine increases the response of dopamine-emitting neurons to alcohol. In other words, those given nicotine are likely to drink more liquor.

The study was carried out by researchers from Yale, Stanford and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

According to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some 46 million Americans both smoke and drink.


August 12 2013, 11:15

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