Do higher prices mean fewer smokers? ‘No more evidence for anything’ | Health

Do higher prices mean fewer smokers? ‘No more evidence for anything’ | Health
Do higher prices mean fewer smokers? ‘No more evidence for anything’ | Health
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Since Monday, a pack of cigarettes has cost as much as 11 euros. The government hopes that the number of smokers will continue to decline. Readers on our response platform NUjij wondered: is there scientific evidence that a price increase actually results in fewer smokers?

“Yes, price increases definitely cause that,” Wanda de Kanter told NU.nl. She is a pulmonologist and chair of the Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation. “Many studies have been done on this, both in the Netherlands and abroad. The first studies are about twenty years old. It has shown for years that raising prices is the most effective measure to reduce the number of smokers.”

Onno van Schayck is professor of Preventive Medicine at Maastricht University. He also emphasizes the positive effect of price increases. “There is as much scientific evidence for nothing as this. We know from many studies worldwide that implementing a price increase causes a decrease in the number of smokers.”

“The first research was done more than twenty years ago and came from Australia,” Van Schayck continues. “About 12 percent of the population now smokes. Previously it was 19 percent. This significant decrease in the number of smokers in Australia is mainly due to price increases. A pack of cigarettes currently costs about 25 euros there.”

According to De Kanter, between 2.5 and 3 million people currently smoke in the Netherlands. “A 10 percent increase in excise duties will result in 4 percent fewer smokers. If the government continues to structurally increase the excise tax, this will result in a significant decrease in the number of smokers.”

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Cross the border

Smoking products are becoming increasingly expensive in the Netherlands. That is why it is often thought that people cross the border to buy cheap cartons of cigarettes. But that isn’t so bad, according to De Kanter.

“The RIVM has conducted research into this. It shows that people who live at the border cross the border more quickly to buy their smoking products. But at a national level you see that this does not happen much at all.”

“In total, smoking costs society more than 30 billion euros every year,” the pulmonologist continues. “The amount that the State misses out on in excise duties is negligible. Especially if you compare this to the twenty thousand deaths annually due to the consequences of smoking.”

“In total, the Dutch spend 30 billion euros on smoking articles every year,” says De Kanter. “The money that the State misses because a number of people get their cigarettes from other countries does not make much difference.”

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Young people in particular are discouraged

According to Van Schayck, the measures are mainly intended to discourage young people. “People often start smoking during puberty. Young people often do not have much money in this vulnerable phase of life. By increasing excise duties, you ensure that they are less likely to buy cigarettes. In doing so, you are, as it were, tackling the problem at its roots. source.”

In addition to discouraging young people, increased excise taxes also ensure that people who already smoke quit smoking sooner.

“Research shows that people with lower socio-economic circumstances smoke twice as much. As soon as addiction plays a major role in people’s lives, a financial incentive can quickly make the difference,” says Van Schayck.

“It is often said that this price increase is sad for the poorer people in the Netherlands who want to smoke. But you do not help them with affordable smoking materials. You help these people with a job and smoking cessation guidance,” De Kanter emphasizes.

Wat is rookstopbegeleiding?

Tijdens rookstopbegeleiding worden mensen die verslaafd zijn aan roken geholpen om hiervan af te komen. Dat gebeurt vaak door een rookstopcoach. Een rookstopcoach geeft tips en kijkt welke hulpmiddelen het best bij iemand passen.

Rookstopbegeleiding is nog niet altijd gratis. “Momenteel worden de eerste vier sessies van tien minuten vergoed door de verzekeringsmaatschappijen”, zegt De Kanter. “Maar zodra mensen een terugval binnen het eerste stopjaar hebben, moeten ze dit zelf betalen. Het Trimbos-instituut, de KNMG en het RIVM willen dat dit traject gratis wordt.”

A total ban will not happen anytime soon

It is common knowledge that smoking is very bad for your health. However, a total ban on smoking products is not yet on the political agenda, says Van Schayck.

“Politicians are afraid to patronize. This idea has mainly fueled the tobacco industry. As a result, a total ban will not happen anytime soon.”

“There is nothing as deadly as smoking,” says the professor. “Fifty percent of smokers die from a cause related to smoking. If you want to market a product today that kills half of the people, then that should absolutely not be allowed. So it would make perfect sense that smoking will be banned in the Netherlands.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: higher prices smokers evidence Health

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