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Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch

Youth Tobacco Use Prevention: Increasing the Price of Tobacco Products

Graphic citing that 24,500 NC kids get hooked on smoking every year and showing a group of children about to light a cigarette.The Guide to Community Preventive Services Task Force found that increasing the price of tobacco products is effective in both 1) reducing tobacco use prevalence and consumption among both adolescents and young adults and 2) increasing tobacco use cessation. In fact, numerous studies indicate that a 10% increase in product price results in an overall 3-5% decrease in cigarette consumption and a 7% decrease in youth smoking.

North Carolina increased its cigarette tax by 25 cents on September 1, 2005, and increased it by an additional 5 cents on July 1, 2006, bringing the state cigarette tax up to 35 cents. An additional 10 cents was added in 2009, bringing the current cigarette tax to 45 cents. The current national average is a tax of $1.45 per pack of cigarettes.

Public health researchers say the cigarette tax increases helped fuel recent teen and adult tobacco use decreases, but the decline in youth smoking is also due to state resources devoted to teen tobacco prevention programs by the Health and Wellness Trust Fund and effective state and national ad campaigns.

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