If a pack of cigarettes were to cost 300 yen, 16 percent of smokers would try to kick the habit, and if the craving was to cost them 1,000 yen a pack, 63 percent would quit, according to a government-sponsored study released Tuesday.
The study, conducted by the Institute for Health Economics and Policy, an affiliate of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, suggests that a tax bringing the price of cigarettes up to 1,000 yen a pack would also add 1 trillion yen to state coffers.
Apart from those who would quit, 30 percent of respondents in the study said they would reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke if the price of a pack of 20, now typically costing 250 yen, were hiked to 300 yen, the report says.
Some 42 percent said they would stop smoking if the price rose to 500 yen.
Only 4 percent said they would continue smoking as usual even if the price were hiked to 1,000 yen a pack, although 33 percent said they’d cut back.
The study estimates that if a pack of cigarettes costs 300 yen, 4.7 million of the slightly more than 28 million smokers in the country would give up smoking.
It also estimates that the number of people who die from smoking-related diseases every year would be cut by 17,000 to fewer than 90,000, and more than 200 billion yen would be saved in medical costs.
At a price of 1,000 yen a pack, the smoking population would be reduced by 17.8 million people, and the number of deaths cut to fewer than 40,000 annually. Medical costs would be slashed by more than 800 billion yen to one-third the amount now spent, the study says.
Tobacco tax revenues would fall slightly from the current level of about 2.3 trillion yen if cigarettes cost 300 yen a pack, but at 500 yen a pack the receipts would grow by 400 billion yen, and soar by more than 1 trillion yen at 1,000 yen a pack, the report says.
“If the rate of increase in the price of a pack is small, it is hard to tell how individuals would change their behavior,” said Yumiko Aburaya, a senior researcher at the institute.
She said, however, that the study helps forecast the effects of raising the tax on cigarettes.
Currently, tobacco sales annually bring in more than 2 trillion yen in tax revenues for the central and local governments. Out of the 250 yen usually paid for a pack of cigarettes, 71 yen goes to the central and local governments and 12.5 yen is paid as a 5 percent consumption tax.
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