Smokers’ ranks grew despite jump in tax

Kyodo

The percentage of people who smoked increased even after the sharp cigarette tax hike came into effect in October 2010, a survey by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Thursday.

The survey, conducted in November 2011, found that 32.4 percent of adult males smoked, compared with 32.2 percent the previous year, as did 9.7 percent of adult females, compared with 8.4 percent in the prior poll.

Of the 3,013 who said they used to smoke regularly or were regular smokers at the time of the survey, 880, or 29.2 percent, said the tax hike — the steepest ever imposed — affected their smoking habits. Of those, 132, or 4.4 percent, said they stopped smoking as a result of the tax increase.

The survey also showed that 343 people, or 11.4 percent, said they cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoked due to the higher tax, while 281 respondents, or 9.3 percent, said they either reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked or quit, only temporarily.

The tax increase in October 2010 pushed up the prices of many cigarette brands by ¥100 or more per pack.