Objective: To use population-level data to monitor the impact on smoking cessation activity of the April 2010 Australian tobacco tax increase.
Design and setting: The Cancer Institute NSW [New South Wales] Tobacco Tracking Survey (CITTS) is a continuous tracking telephone survey conducting about 50 interviews per week. Data from February to September in 2009 and 2010 were analysed (ie, data on people who quit smoking in the 3 months before and 5 months after the tax increase in 2010 were compared, and quitting activity over the same period in 2009 was also analysed).
Participants: Adult smokers and smokers who had stopped smoking in the previous 12 months; 2009 (n = 1604); 2010 (n = 1699).
Main outcome measure: Recent quitting (defined as stopping smoking or trying to quit within a 1-month period).
Results: 22% of the sample reported that they had quit smoking in May 2010, compared with 13% in April 2010 and 12% in May 2009. Respondents interviewed in the 3 months after the tax increase (May-July) were significantly more likely to report quitting than those interviewed in the 3 months before the tax increase (odds ratio, 1.84; 95% CI, 1.26-2.69; P < 0.01). This increase in quitting activity was not sustained in the subsequent months (August-September).
Conclusions: The tobacco tax increase was associated with a short-term increase in the rate of smoking cessation among NSW adult smokers and recent quitters, suggesting that regular increases in tobacco tax may further encourage quitting activity.