Context: Tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and around the world. Increasing tobacco price through higher taxes is an effective intervention both to reduce tobacco use in the population and generate government revenues. The goal of this paper is to review evidence on the economic impact of tobacco price increases through taxation with a focus on the likely healthcare cost savings and improvements in employee productivity.
Evidence acquisition: The search covered studies published in English from January 2000 to July 2012 and included evaluations of national, state, and local policies to increase the price of any type of tobacco product by raising taxes in high-income countries. Economic review methods developed for The Guide to Community Preventive Services were used to screen and abstract included studies. Economic impact estimates were standardized to summarize the available evidence. Analyses were conducted in 2012.
Evidence synthesis: The review included eight modeling studies, with seven providing estimates of the impact on healthcare costs and three providing estimates of the value of productivity gains. Only one study provided an estimate of intervention costs. The economic merit of tobacco product price increases through taxation was determined from the overall body of evidence on per capita annual cost savings from a conservative 20% price increase.
Conclusions: The evidence indicates that interventions that raise the unit price of tobacco products through taxes generate substantial healthcare cost savings and can generate additional gains from improved productivity in the workplace.
Published by Elsevier Inc.