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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates a 50-cent hike in the U.S. cigarette tax could result in a decrease of more than three million smokers by 2085. The tax increase would either encourage people to quit, or would keep people from starting to smoke, the researchers say.

The CBO report, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, estimates 200,000 of those three million people would have died before that year if the tax hike were not in effect. The CBO does independent analyses of budget issues for Congress.

The current federal cigarette tax is $1.01, HealthDay reports.

The decrease in the number of smokers would result in $730 million in savings in healthcare costs between 2013 and 2021, the report notes. In the long term, federal spending would increase, because of the additional people living into old age, who would use Social Security and Medicare.

Overall, the CBO estimated the cigarette tax increase would result in a small projected reduction in the federal deficit in 2035. “Consequences for the federal budget are only one factor that lawmakers may consider when developing policies to promote health,” the report concluded.


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