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When Cigarette Prices Go Up Montrealers Drink Less

Sometimes you have to make a choice.
When Cigarette Prices Go Up Montrealers Drink Less

Photo cred - Happy Bonez

Perhaps the most widespread of vices, drinking and smoking cigarettes, are a match made in debauchery heaven. Having a smoke with a drink is nearly instinctual for most Montrealers, as going without one while you enjoy the other nearly seems wrong. You may not have a beer with your morning smoke, but you know you wish you could. But as with all great things, choices need to be made, and when folks have to decide between cigarettes and alcohol, smokes win out.

Melissa Krauss and a team from the Washington University School of Medicine analyzed the relationship between smoking and drinking in a recent study, zeroing in on how the price of the former affects the frequency of the latter. In other words, Krauss looked into how cigarette prices influence how often people buy and drink alcohol.

Delving into purchasing trends in the US from 1980 to 2009 across every state, Krauss and her team found that, across all cities, as the price of a pack of smokes increased, the rate at which citizens consumed alcohol dropped. Compiling and averaging out all of the info, a basic equation was found: as the price of smokes increased by 20%, drinking goes down by 2%.

Interestingly, the equation doesn't apply to wine drinkers. Folks who like a glass of red or white were shown to drink just as much, though that wasn't a big surprise. Krauss points out that wine drinkers tend to have healthier lifestyles, and do not smoke, so the price of cigarettes wouldn't influence their rate of consumption. Montreal being in the mix would have probably been an outlier on that front, as wine drinkers tend to be smokers too.

Karuss's study may have been focused on the US, though the same model could easily apply to Montreal. Most people in the city are far from rich, so it's pretty likely that folks would drink less if they had to pay more for smokes. Or, at the least, more $5 forties would be purchased from deps across the city.

For more on all things Montreal, follow Michael on Twitter @MDAlimonte

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