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The Role of Public Policies in Reducing Smoking

The Minnesota SimSmoke Tobacco Policy Model

      Background

      Following the landmark lawsuit and settlement with the tobacco industry, Minnesota pursued the implementation of stricter tobacco control policies, including tax increases, mass media campaigns, smokefree air laws, and cessation treatment policies. Modeling is used to examine policy effects on smoking prevalence and smoking-attributable deaths.

      Purpose

      To estimate the effect of tobacco control policies in Minnesota on smoking prevalence and smoking-attributable deaths using the SimSmoke simulation model.

      Methods

      Minnesota data starting in 1993 are applied to SimSmoke, a simulation model used to examine the effect of tobacco control policies over time on smoking initiation and cessation. Upon validating the model against smoking prevalence, SimSmoke is used to distinguish the effect of policies implemented since 1993 on smoking prevalence. Using standard attribution methods, SimSmoke also estimates deaths averted as a result of the policies.

      Results

      SimSmoke predicts smoking prevalence accurately between 1993 and 2011. Since 1993, a relative reduction in smoking rates of 29% by 2011 and of 41% by 2041 can be attributed to tobacco control policies, mainly tax increases, smokefree air laws, media campaigns, and cessation treatment programs. Moreover, 48,000 smoking-attributable deaths will be averted by 2041.

      Conclusions

      Minnesota SimSmoke demonstrates that tobacco control policies, especially taxes, have substantially reduced smoking prevalence and smoking-attributable deaths. Taxes, smokefree air laws, mass media, cessation treatment policies, and youth-access enforcement contributed to the decline in prevalence and deaths averted, with the strongest component being taxes. With stronger policies, for example, increasing cigarette taxes to $4.00 per pack, Minnesota's smoking rate could be reduced by another 13%, and 7200 deaths could be averted by 2041.
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