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...and how to get rid of it.

Within just one decade, Canada lowered its smoking rate among persons 16 and older by one-third - from an average annual consumption of 3,800 cigarettes per person in 1980 to just over 2,500 per person in 1990. Taxes deserve most of the credit, assert Lester R. Brown and Hal Kane of the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C. Canada's federal and provincial taxes on cigarettes have climbed steadily since 1980, they note - from 38 cents a pack in 1980 to $3.25 a pack today.

Nor is Canada alone in taxing its smokers heavily At $4.06 and $3.95 per pack, respectively Denmark and Norway lead. The United Kingdom and Ireland follow close behind Canada, with per-pack taxes of more than $3. Spain levies the industrial world's lowest cigarette tax - 46 cents a pack; the United States taxes its cigarettes at just a nickel more per pack.

Because cigarette smokers incur more sick leave, higher disability benefits, and higher public health costs, they tend to be less productive workers, Brown and Kane observe. "Tobacco taxes correct for those costs by discouraging consumption of products whose costs to society are not reflected in their retail price," the Worldwatch researchers maintain in a report released last week.

Those taxes also discourage consumption. Governments have noted that each 4 percent increase in cigarette taxes reduces smoking by 4 percent overall - and by 10 percent among teens, Brown and Kane point out. In the United States at least, those youths have proven a tough market to reach with anti-smoking campaigns. In an editorial in the Aug. 12 Journal of the American Medical Association, National Cancer Institute Director Samuel Broder notes that smoking rates among 12- to 18-year-olds have not changed appreciably since 1979. "The lack of any significant change in smoking habits among teens stands in sharp contrast to the substantial drop in smoking rates among adults over this same time period," he writes.

Broder concludes that "smoking is a |social carcinogen' requiring the dedication and involvement of us all."
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Title Annotation:Canadian taxes on cigarettes have risen since 1980
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 22, 1992
Previous Article:Where there's smoke....
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