Analysis Of The Effects Of The 2009 Mississippi Tobacco Tax Increase On The Smoking Behavior Of Youth In Grades 6-10
In Mississippi, approximately 4,700 deaths are caused by smoking and approximately 3,500 young Mississippians begin smoking each year. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start smoking by age 18, and 99% start by age 26. Because of the early age of initiation, policy changes and other initiatives that affect smoking rates among youth are of particular interest, including tax increases. In 2009, Mississippi increased its state excise tax on tobacco from $.18 to $.68 per pack which was in addition to the federal tax increase to $1.0066 (an increase of $.6166 from the previous amount of $.39). This study examined the effect of Mississippi's tobacco tax increase on youth smoking initiation and tobacco consumption behavior using difference-in-difference analysis. Using the SmartTrackTM School Survey this study analyzed changes in youth who reported ever smoking and their recent consumption from the three years prior to the tax increase to the three years following it using data from the Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey as the control group since Louisiana did not experienced a state-level cigarette tax increase during this period. The analysis showed mixed results for a statistically significant difference in smoking initiation (ever smoked cigarettes) rates, and moderately supported the hypothesis of past 30 day youth smoking rates being reduced by the tax increase on cigarettes in Mississippi. While youth smoking rates declined significantly during the study period, the difference-in-difference analysis of youth who reported ever smoking showed only a small but statistically significant effect across all grades, but had a notable impact on 6th graders. The analysis of past 30 day use showed no short term effect on Mississippi youth in the year after the 2009 tax increase, but difference-in-difference comparisons showed a moderate and statistically significant impact on those rates the longer term. The results of this study will be of interest to scholars, policymakers, and tobacco control advocates as they make decisions about whether to increase state level taxes on cigarettes to prevent smoking initiation and curb youth tobacco use.