[Tobacco taxation: economic and public health issues]

Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique. 1999 Oct;47(5):465-72.
[Article in French]


Cigarette smoking is a major public health issue. An increase of cigarette tax might be a way for promoting tobacco control. This article reviews the economist's perspective of tobacco control. It shows that a crucial economic criteria for supporting an increase of cigarette tax--the cost of externalities--is not fulfilled, since smokers may well have been paying their own financial externalities. However, the theory of rationale addiction cannot fully explain smoking behavior because of risk perception bias. The nicotine dependence and the onset of nicotine addiction occurring mostly during childhood and adolescence explain why consumption decision cannot be assumed to be the product of informed, rational choice by mature individuals. Children and teenagers fail to appreciate the risks associated with behavior and heavily discount the future. Protecting children and teenagers constitutes the strongest argument favoring increased taxation of cigarettes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Taxes*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / economics*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control*