-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Genetics seem to play an
important role in whether people respond to anti-smoking policies
and may help explain why the number of smokers in the United States
has remained stable in recent years instead of declining.
That's the finding of a new study by Yale School of Public
Health researchers. They noted that smoking rates dropped sharply
after the U.S. Surgeon General's landmark 1964 report about the
dangers of smoking, but cessation rates have leveled off over the
past 20 years despite increasingly strict measures -- such as
higher taxes and no-smoking rules -- meant to persuade people to
"We found that for people who are genetically predisposed to tobacco addiction, higher cigarette taxes were not enough to dissuade them from smoking," lead researcher Jason Fletcher, an associate professor in the department of health policy and management at the School of Public Health, said in a Yale news release.
He and his colleagues examined the association between state
tobacco taxes and a nicotine receptor gene in adults. They found
that variations in the nicotine receptor affected how people
responded to higher tobacco taxes.
People with one genetic variant decreased their tobacco use by
nearly 30 percent when faced with higher taxes, while those with
another variant were not affected by higher taxes, according to the
study published online Dec. 5 in the journal
"This study is an important first step in considering how to further reduce adult smoking rates," Fletcher said. "We need to understand why existing policies do not work for everyone so that we can develop more effective approaches."
The findings suggest that anti-tobacco strategies that do not
rely on financial or social penalties may be needed to persuade
many smokers to quit.
While the study found an association between certain gene
variants and greater resistance to smoking cessation, it did not
prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the
United States and causes more than 400,000 deaths a year, according
to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The American Cancer Society offers a
guide to quitting smoking.
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