Increased cigarette taxes have been linked to a decrease in binge drinking episodes among male smokers, MedPage Today reported.
In a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers from Yale University found that binge drinking decreased by 22 percent among men living in states that implemented cigarette tax hikes, compared to male smokers in other states. Furthermore, men hit with the tax hikes also reported drinking less alcohol overall.
Researchers gathered data from two prospective surveys of 21,473 alcohol drinkers from 2001 to 2002 and 2004 to 2005. Frequency of drinking and smoking was self-reported by the study’s participants, and only people who described themselves as daily smokers were considered “smokers” for the study’s purposes.
Researchers are still exploring possible explanations for the link.
"Nicotine acts with specific receptors in the brain unrelated to alcohol but have non-nicotine compounds that induce triggers and cues unrelated to nicotine receptors," said Gregory N. Connolly, faculty director for the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health. "So the researchers may have found something big.
Among female drinkers, no change in behavior was noticed related to cigarette tax increases, possibly because the overall number of male drinkers is higher in the United States.
"Eight percent of the population meets the criteria for alcohol use disorder. Out of that, 5 percent are men and 3 percent are women," study author Sherry McKee, of Yale University School of Medicine, told MedPage Today.