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Smoking & drinking—less,
after cigarette taxes rise

Drinking and smoking go together—even we nonsmokers know that. But here's a bit of good news for men who struggle with too much of both: higher taxes can help.

Increases in cigarette taxes correspond with "modest to moderate reductions in alcohol consumption among vulnerable groups," says a press release describing a new study by Sherry McKee, associate professor of psychiatry
 at the School of Medicine, and colleagues from around the country.

Those groups, "who are most at risk for adverse alcohol-related consequences, includ[e] male heavy drinkers, young adults, and those with the lowest income," McKee says.

Previous studies have shown that tobacco enhances alcohol's buzz and boosts "the risk for heavy and problematic drinking," she notes. Previous research also demonstrates that when cigarette taxes go up, smoking goes down. 

The new study, in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, suggests that hiking tobacco taxes "may have a modest impact on heavy drinking rates among men, those with lower income, and those who drink most heavily," says coauthor Christopher Kahler of Brown University's school of public health.

Even small decreases could be beneficial since, as the release points out, tobacco "is the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the US, while heavy drinking ranks as the third leading cause of preventable death."

McKee and colleagues explored another cigarettes-and-whiskey link in a previous study, finding that people drink less when they're not allowed to smoke in bars.

Filed under smoking, alcohol
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