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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tobacco Taxes May Reduce Infant Death Rates

There is a lot to be said for raising the price of tobacco products through tax hikes. The more expensive a pack of cigarettes is, the more likely people will be to opt out of a purchase. It has long been known that tobacco is one of the leading causes of preventable illness, and that nicotine use can lead to addiction. The less people smoke, the healthier we are as a society.

It is widely accepted that pregnant women who use addictive substances risk putting their child at risk. Staying clear from drugs and alcohol while pregnant should be of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, many women choose to drink and/or smoke while pregnant despite the countless warnings. Efforts to reduce the use of such substances will result in healthier babies being born into the world.

In fact, new research has found that raising the price of cigarettes may actually reduce infant mortality rates across the nation, HealthDay reports. The researchers point out that each $1 per pack increase in the tobacco tax rate between 1999 and 2010 may have resulted in two fewer infant deaths each day. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

Infant death rates and tobacco taxes from 1999-2010 were tracked by the researchers, according to the report. During that time period inflation-adjusted tobacco taxes on the state and federal levels were raised from 84 cents a pack to $2.37 per pack. Interestingly, the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births fell from 7.3 to 6.2 overall, and from 14.3 to 11.3 among blacks. However, the researchers point out that the findings do not necessarily prove that higher taxes translate into fewer infant deaths.

"Smoking in pregnancy can lead to poor outcomes like premature birth, the number one cause of death for infants in the first year of life," said study author Dr. Stephen Patrick, an assistant professor of pediatrics and health policy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "As a neonatologist, I commonly see premature and low birth weight infants born to women who smoke, and we know that nearly one in five women smoke during pregnancy." 

For those who are in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, smoking may make you more susceptible to relapse. Yet another reason for staying away from the insidious products. If you go to treatment for a substance use disorder, it is advised that you make a concerted effort to curb your addiction to nicotine.

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