Will a Higher Cigarette Tax Snuff Out Smoking in Ohio?

Economics professor Kathryn Wilson weighs in


Kent State Economics Professor Kathryn Wilson
Kathryn Wilson, Ph.D.

While Kent State University may be a smoke-free campus, the state of Ohio is another story.

Ohio has the fourth-highest rate of cigarette smoking in the country with about one-fifth of residents reported to still be smoking in 2019. This is 11.5% higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In other parts of the country, increased taxation for smokers has inspired a precipitous decline in rates of smoking. According to a recent article from Ohio Capital Journal, rates of smoking dropped from 20.9% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2021 thanks to steeper cigarette tax rates.

Could this work in Ohio?

Scioto Analysis posed that question to 23 economists, including Kent State University’s Kathryn Wilson, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Economics within the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship

The firm asked if raising the per-pack tax from $1.60 to $2 would raise consumer costs, and whether this would in turn decrease consumption.

According to the Ohio Capital Journal report, most of the economists surveyed thought that increased taxes would lead to increased prices, with 15 agreeing, six disagreeing and two uncertain. There was less agreement about whether it would reduce cigarette consumption.

“Studies have shown that higher cigarette prices reduce the likelihood that youth will begin smoking and reduce cigarette consumption among youth. The result for adults is generally not as strong,” Wilson stated in the article. “I agree that the tax would likely result in a reduction in cigarette consumption, particularly among youth, but I don’t know that the tax increase would be enough to significantly reduce consumption overall.”

Read the full article from Ohio Capital Journal.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 28, 2024 03:39 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2024 05:46 PM
Amy Antenora
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