Because of the price and to live a healthier life, 11 percent of smokers quit smoking last year. That’s nearly four times as much as the roughly 3 percent of smokers who quit each year on average. This is apparent from research by the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport into the effects of the increase in excise duty on the behavior of smokers.
The smoking and purchasing behavior of smokers has changed considerably since the increase in excise duties on cigarettes and roll-your-own in 2020. Even though smokers changed their behavior less than they themselves had said beforehand. It also appears that the change in behavior is not only the result of the increase in excise duties. The impact of corona and the measures associated with it play an important role in the results of the study. The RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment asked smokers about their smoking behavior before and after the excise tax increase on 1 April 2020. They were also asked whether they buy smoking products abroad. Beforehand, they were asked whether they thought their behavior would change with different price increases. In the second round – eight months later – they were asked what had really changed.
Also health, not just price
There is a big difference between intended and actual behavior. At the first survey, about 27-30 percent of smokers indicated they intended to quit. In the end, 11 percent actually quit. Yet that is still almost four times as much as the approximately 3 percent of smokers who quit on average per year. Furthermore, about half of the smokers thought they would smoke less because of the increase in excise duties. That turned out to be 25 percent. In addition to the price increase, health is mentioned as a reason to reduce or stop smoking.
During the pre-measurement, 20 percent of the respondents always or regularly bought cigarettes abroad. Beforehand, 34 percent (cigarette smokers) to 46 percent (rolling tobacco smokers) thought they would do this more often if the price increased. In the end, only 4 percent of the respondents turned out to have bought tobacco products abroad more often. These are people who live close to the border with Belgium or Germany. The travel restrictions due to corona are an important explanation for this low percentage. Just over a quarter of smokers indicated that they would have bought abroad more often if the borders had remained open.
start smoking more
Despite the price increase, about a third of those surveyed started smoking more cigarettes per day during the survey. The cause was not asked in this study, but the SARS severe acute respiratory syndrome -CoV coronavirus -2 outbreak and corona measures probably play a role in this. This is in line with results of other RIVM research. The questionnaire survey of the corona behavioral unit (round 10) showed that 29 percent of smokers had started smoking (much) more often, while 19 percent indicated that they smoke (much) less. With this periodic survey, the RIVM and GGD Municipal Health Service GHOR Medical Assistance Organization in the Region (together with the regional GGDs) monitor people’s behavior and are asked what they think of the government’s behavioral measures and how it is physically, mentally and social with them in this corona era.
Significant increase in smokers who quit after an increase in excise duty
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