Smoking in bars and pubs
A man smokes a cigarette at a cafe in central Krasnoyarsk in Siberia January 24, 2013. Reuters/Ilya Naymushin

New research shows that smoking ban is more effective than high taxes on casual smokers. The new findings may help discourage smoking among young people.

Researchers from the Ohio State University and Purdue University say that both heavy taxes and smoke bans work, but they affect different types of smokers. Heavy taxes work on people who smoke more than a pack a day, while bans prevent casual smokers from becoming heavy tobacco users. Moreover, combining bans with high taxes do not reduce overall smoking rates.

"We're not just looking at how state policies affect smoking rates in general. We were able to determine how individual smokers reacted to changes in government policies at the city level," lead author Mike Vuolo said in a press release. "We were never able to get to that level of detail before."

The researchers interviewed 4,341 people, aged 19 to 31 years, from 2004 through 2011. People were 21 percent less likely to smoke in cities where smoking is banned; however, higher taxes did not have any effect on casual smokers.

Vuolo pointed out that casual or social smokers choose not to smoke if smoking is not allowed. Meanwhile, those who smoke more than a pack a day do not smoke due to economic costs. The researchers said that these results provide policymakers options for tobacco control.

“They are both effective in different ways. Smoking bans might be more effective in preventing new smokers, but it definitely pays to do something,” Vuolo added. “The worst case is not having bans or taxes.”

Smoking is banned in enclosed public areas in Australia. Tobacco advertising is banned from popular culture products. Additionally, under the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011, all cigarettes must be packaged in a plain, logo-free format showing graphic health warnings and age restrictions. It was reported that Tasmania plans to increase smoking age restriction to 21 or 25 years.

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