207678 Looking backward and looking forward: Lessons learned from alcohol and tobacco taxes and implications for obesity prevention

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 11:20 AM

Frank J. Chaloupka, PhD , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Lisa Powell, PhD , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Jamie F. Chriqui, PhD, MHS , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background. As states are increasingly aware of the public health and economic toll caused by obesity, they are looking to policy interventions that have helped to reduce other chronic diseases and risk factors. One such example is the taxation of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.

Methodology. This presentation will review the evidence on the effects of alcohol and tobacco taxation on their consumption and related consequences, as well as the emerging literature on the relationship between food prices and taxes, consumption, and weight outcomes.

Findings: Extensive research demonstrates that higher alcohol and tobacco taxes are effective in significantly reducing use and its consequences by encouraging cessation, preventing initiation, and reducing frequency of use and consumption. Studies have demonstrated that dedicating some tobacco tax revenues to comprehensive tobacco control programs further reduces tobacco use. However, compared to alcohol and tobacco taxes, taxes imposed on unhealthy foods (e.g., soda and candy) are substantially lower and not all states tax such products. A small, but growing body of research finds significant associations between food prices and weight outcomes, suggesting that significant taxes on unhealthy products might reduce obesity.

Conclusions. The evidence that alcohol and tobacco taxes promote public health has stimulated interest in taxes as a policy tool for reversing the upward trend in obesity. However, while these products are well-defined and relatively easy to tax, it is more difficult to clearly define problematic categories of foods and beverages and to address potential substitution across products.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the evidence on the effects of alcohol and tobacco taxation on their consumption and related consequences. 2. Assess the emerging literature on the relationship between food prices and taxes, consumption, and weight outcomes.

Keywords: Substance Abuse, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Frank J. Chaloupka is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he has been on the faculty since 1988. He is currently Director of the UIC Health Policy Center and holds appointments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciencesí Department of Economics and the School of Public Healthís Division of Health Policy and Administration. He is a Fellow at the University of Illinoisí Institute for Government and Public Affairs, and is a Research Associate in the National Bureau of Economic Researchís Health Economics Program and Childrenís Program. Dr. Chaloupka is Director of ImpacTeen: A Policy Research Partnership for Healthier Youth Behavior and Co-Director of the International Tobacco Evidence Network. An economist, Dr. Chaloupka earned his B.A. from John Carroll University in 1984 and his Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate School and University Center. Numerous professional publications and presentations have resulted from Dr. Chaloupka's research on the effects of prices and substance control policies on cigarette smoking and other tobacco use, alcohol use and abuse, and illicit drug use, as well as on various outcomes related to substance use and abuse. Much of this research has focused on youth and young adults. This research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and others. Dr. Chaloupka contributed a section on the effects of cigarette taxes and prices on youth smoking for the 1994 Surgeon Generalís report, and a lengthy chapter on the economics of tobacco for the 2000 Surgeon Generalís report on which he was Consulting Scientific Editor. In addition, he co-authored the World Bankís policy report: Curbing the Epidemic: Governments and the Economics of Tobacco Control and co-edited the volume Tobacco Control in Developing Countries containing the background papers prepared for the report. He is currently updating this work as lead editor for the forthcoming NCI and WHO monograph on The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control, and is part of the editorial team for the 2010 Surgeon Generalís report on Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People. Over the past few years, Dr. Chaloupkaís research on the policy and economic determinants of health behaviors has expanded to include a focus on healthy eating, physical activity, and obesity. Some of this research is highlighted in the October 2007 supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine for which Dr. Chaloupka was the lead editor. Dr. Chaloupka is on the editorial boards of American Journal of Public Health and Contemporary Economic Policy, is the economics editor for Tobacco Control, an Assistant Editor for Addiction, and an Associate Editor for Nicotine & Tobacco Research. He is also a consultant to numerous governmental agencies, private organizations, and businesses. In 1996 Dr. Chaloupka received the University Scholar Award from the University of Illinois for his research on the economic analysis of substance use and abuse and in 2009 received UICís Researcher of the Year in the Social Sciences and Humanities award for his work on the economic, policy and environmental determinants of health behavior. In addition, Dr. Chaloupka has served on the Technical Advisory Panel of the National Cancer Institute's American Stop Smoking Intervention Study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Healthy People 2000 and 2010 Tobacco Work Group, the National Institute of Health's Community Prevention and Control Study Section, and the Institute of Medicineís Committee on an Evidence Framework for Obesity Prevention Decision-Making, and chaired the American Legacy Foundationís Policy Advisory Committee and the American Cancer Societyís International Tobacco Surveillance Advisory Committee.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.