New Study: Men Drink Less When Smokes Cost More


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In the quest to further understand human behavior and substance use, a team of researchers from Yale, Stanford, and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY has found an interesting correlation: when analyzing data from over 21,000 drinkers who took part in a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study, increased cigarette taxes were associated with "modest to moderate reductions in drinking among 'vulnerable groups.'" Their findings are published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The drinkers who were analyzed were compared between 31 states that increased cigarette taxes, while some people from 15 states where taxes remained the same represented a control group. NBC News says that states with tobacco tax hikes saw 10 percent less alcohol consumed at a time and about 7 less instances of binging when compared with the states with unaffected taxes. Unfortunately, the study's applications seem limited to only males.

Sherry McKee, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, has said in a journal news release that smoking and heavy drinking very typically occur simultaneously. Tobacco is known to enhance the effects of alcohol and increase the risk of problem drinking, and according to WebMD the study results suggest that increased "cigarette taxes were associated with reductions in alcohol consumption over time among male smokers.

McKee notes that cigarette taxes are an excellent method to reduce smoking to encourage smokers to reduce their use or quit while adding financial incentive to prevent new smokers from picking up the habit.

The chairman of the department of behavioral and social sciences at Brown School of Public Health, Christopher Kahler, said that the "findings suggest that if states increase taxes on cigarettes, they are not only likely to reduce smoking -- based on a large body of literature -- but they also may have a modest impact on heavy drinking rates among men, those with lower income and those who drink most heavily... In other words, policies that target one specific health behavior may have broader benefits to public health by affecting additional health behaviors that tend to co-occur with the targeted health behavior."

Laboratory studies have proven that tobacco and alcohol combined have effects in how rewarding the booze feels. Although the link seems concrete, the differences between how these substances affect men and women seem strangely mysterious, like how men produce more dopamine in response to alcohol than women do.

For readers who use an e-cig for nicotine vapor in place of a cigarette, Sherry McKee cautions that although the connection between vaporous nicotine and alcohol is not one that has been explored, any form of nicotine administered will have an effect on drinking behavior.