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OSU study reveals impact of voter-approved cigarette tax increase

Friday, May 16, 2008

(STILLWATER, Okla.– May 16, 2008) -- A voter-approved increase in Oklahoma’s cigarette tax reduced the number of cigarettes sold and motivated many Oklahoma smokers to cut back or quit, according to a study recently conducted by the Oklahoma State University Department of Marketing and funded by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
“The results of this study are important because smoking kills – and the research finds that increasing the tobacco tax saves lives by reducing smoking,” said Josh Wiener, professor and head of the OSU Department of Marketing and co-principal investigator for the study.
The tax increase took effect Jan. 1, 2005, and increased the cigarette tax from 23 cents to $1.03 per pack.
Wiener, along with Alex Zablah, OSU assistant professor of marketing, employed survey research and analyzed data from the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) to determine the impact of the tax increase.
Data from the OTC revealed that cigarette sales dropped by 47 million packs after the tax increase, from 356 million packs sold in fiscal year 2004 to 309 million packs sold in fiscal year 2006.
The study also revealed the tax increase positively affected the number of Oklahoma smokers who quit or tried to quit smoking. About 35 percent of smokers said the price increase encouraged them to quit. Although the tax increase influenced smokers within all demographic groups, those most affected were individuals with an annual income below $50,000.
“The impact on those with incomes under $50,000 was dramatic. Almost two-thirds said that they made an effort to quit as a consequence of the price increase,” Wiener said. “The findings emphasize that the decision to smoke or not to smoke is similar to any other purchase decision: it is strongly influenced by price.”
Another portion of the study surveyed Oklahoma youth and found that the number of middle school students who either experimented with cigarettes or were established smokers in 2007 was dramatically lower than in 2002.

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