U.S. - with increase in taxes will reduce smoking rates /prevent people from starting..

March 16, 2009 - A big hike in the federal tax on cigarettes taking effect on April 1 may prompt 1 million U.S. smokers to quit, according to public health experts.
Expansion of a popular public health insurance program for lower income children is being financed by an increase in the federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes of about $1.01 per pack, up from the current 39 cents. (President Obama To Sign SCHIP..)

Dr. Terry Pechacek of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office on Smoking and Health: "There is almost unanimous agreement across the scientific community and policymakers that raising the price of cigarettes in whatever fashion has a consistent effect on reducing smoking rates, increasing the quit rate among adult smokers and preventing the initiation of regular smoking by children and young adults."

Danny McGoldrick, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids advocacy group's vice president for research, said the formula is simple: as prices rise, fewer people buy cigarettes. McGoldrick forecast the tax hike will persuade just over 1 million current smokers to quit and prevent 2 million children from starting. These changes will avert about 905,000 smoking-related deaths and save $44.5 billion in healthcare expenses over time, McGoldrick predicted.

The industry is unhappy. Higher prices will lead to at least a 10 percent decline in cigarette sales and could put 117,000 people out of work, said Thomas Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets.

A check of c-store operators indicates lots of smokers are talking about quitting but just about all never mention they'll switch to a smokeless tobacco product(tobaccowatch.org). Nine Out of Ten Smokers Who Try Smokeless Still Reject the Product - the words of Murray Kessler, former UST's president and chief operating officer (now Vice Chair, Altria Group, Inc.).

Related news briefs: Will Federal tobacco tax increase hurt states from raising the tax on tobacco..; Tobacco Industry - Consequences of the SCHIP Federal Excise Tax Increases..; As tobacco prices rise - increase in illegal cigarette trafficing..; C-stores adjusting to SCHIP tobacco price increases..; SCHIP increased tobacco tax will black market flourish..

Reference: Enough of the puff: tax may cut smoking rates by Will Dunham, Reuters, 3/15/2009.