Can smaller cigarette pack sizes help smokers quit?
Can smaller cigarette
help smokers quit?
Nathan Batalion, Global Health Activist, Healingtalks Editor
(Healingtalks) – Cornell University researchers made a discovery that those eating soup and using a refilling bowl tended to sip twice as much soup as those only given normal-size bowls. Apparently the portion size had a substantial influence.
Could this insight be applied to making smaller packs of cigarettes and to save lives?
The 10-cigarette pack
It’s time overdue for a different and smaller standard-size cigarette pack. Currently the government mandates a standard 20 cigarettes per pack. Cigarette packs with less could help smokers at least cut back – and that is what some 70% of smokers want to do. But if you buy a full pack and smoke one, the other 19 are there to entice you for quite a while.
Paying for the trade-off
Would changing the pack size make a difference and catch on? Smokers generally don’t purchase cartons but more expensive packs. So they might be willing to do the same for smaller packs. The limited access can help cut down or quit smoking.
Now is the time
Now is the time to consider this change as Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to do so. Before the FDA could only regulate nicotine replacement therapies such (patch and gum) but not the tobacco products themselves. Now, the FDA has the broader authority to regulate cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco.
As the FDA is developing new tobacco regulations; it should therefore consider smaller size packs.
This meets smokers needs and wants
Most smokers actually want fewer cigarettes. The average number of cigarettes smoked per day declined from almost 19.6 in 1993 to about 16.8 in 2004. Non-daily smokers consume yet less cigarettes per day. A smaller pack might get smokers to smoke still less. Evidence suggests that those who cut back are then more likely to eventually quit.
Why larger packs
Part of the reason for larger 20-cigarette packs is to impede youths from smoking by keeping cigarette pack prices high. But according to the CDV, only about 14% of youths who smoke buy their cigarettes directly from a store. 84% get them from family and friends.
Impediments to smoking
Among the enacted impediments to smoking are:
- Increased federal, state and even city excise taxes
- FDA ban of flavored cigarettes that appeal to youths
- Ban of all outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of schools
- Making it illegal to sell to those under 18
Let’s add another
Teen smoking is again on the rise so why not help them and the majority of smokers trying to quit or cut back by mandating smaller packs. Indeed if the size of the bowl can determine how much soup you eat, so can the size of the pack determine how many cigarettes we smoke.
Based on a NYT article by Jody Sindelar, a health economist and professor at the Yale School of Public Health. She is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where she combines economics and psychology to study addictions using the new approaches of behavioral economics. This article was written in association with The Op-Ed Project, an organization seeking to expand the range of opinion voices to include more women.
Another option: Video on slim cigarettes or making cigarettes thinner
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