Taxes and Laws Help Moms Quit

More pregnant women quit smoking with higher cigarette taxes and restrictive smoking laws

(RxWiki News) If death and taxes are the only things in the world that are inevitable, then one is actually slowing down the other in this case.

A recent study has found that higher cigarette taxes and more restrictive anti-smoking laws are having an impact on pregnant women's decisions to quit smoking - and often to stay tobacco-free.

"Don't smoke while pregnant."

E. Kathleen Adams, PhD, of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Emory University, led the study into the impact of higher taxes and more restrictive tobacco laws on pregnant women's smoking habits.

Adams and colleagues combed through the records of 225,445 women who had given birth from 2000 to 2005 in 29 different states.

They gathered information regarding the number of women who smoked, the number who quit smoking while pregnant and the number who continued to not smoke four months after giving birth.

They then compared this data to the federal, state and local cigarette taxes, data on the state's tobacco control spending during those five years and laws that partially or fully banned smoking in work places or restaurants.

A $1 increase in cigarette taxes, they found, resulted in 48.9 percent of pregnant women quitting, compared to 44.1 percent without the tax - almost 5 percent more women choosing to quit.

A similar figure was seen for the women who stayed tobacco-free four months after their babies were born. A $1 increase in tax corresponded to a drop from 25.5 percent to 21.3 percent of women who didn't return to smoking four months postpartum.

Completely banning smoking at private work places similarly decreased the likelihood that women would smoke during pregnancy by almost five percentage points.

No link seemed to exist between women's decision to quit and state spending levels related to tobacco control.

"If additional tobacco tax revenues were used by states to support implementation of smoke-free and other effective policies, then tax policy could have additional effects on prevalence of smoking and in turn, help improve birth outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs at delivery," said Dr. Adams.

The study was published online June 5 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a grant from the Health Care Financing Initiative. No financial disclosures were reported.

Review Date: 
June 2, 2012