Galinato and his co-author Yeon Hong, who earned a Ph.D. at WSU, had a few important findings in their paper. They found that for every dollar per capita spent on tobacco education programs, the probability of a non-smoking adolescent ever smoking was reduced by eight percent. For adolescents already smoking, every dollar per capita spent on education programs reduced smoking by one smoking day per month for females only. There was no reduction for males.
But, the paper also looked at tobacco tax implications. Galinato and Hong found that adolescent smoking amounts actually responded more to increases in taxes. In other words, higher prices had more impact than learning about the ill effects of smoking through tobacco education programs.
“Raising tobacco taxes is a much more efficient way of reducing smoking, and to not start smoking,” Galinato said. “But that doesn’t mean those education programs aren’t useful. If they’re done in conjunction with increased taxes, you would hit an even larger swath of people.”
The implications could be huge for government agencies looking for the most efficient ways to curb smoking.
And the two methods could also work together, as increasing taxes could pay for the educational programs, a “revenue neutral” system that could have major impacts.
Galinato said he was surprised to win the award for his paper, but glad that his work could have a direct impact for policy makers. He received his award at a Western Agricultural Economics Association meeting in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho this summer.