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BOSTON -- After nearly a decade of declines, cigarette sales jumped 13 percent in Massachusetts during the last three months of 2001 -- a startling reversal that some specialists attribute to increased anxiety after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
"The increase in tobacco use in Massachusetts is directly related to the events of September 11th," said Lori Fresina, a Cancer Society spokeswoman. "That is the only explanation for a spike of that significance."
Before the jump, cigarette sales in the state had dropped steadily since 1993. That year, the state implemented a $48 million-a-year tobacco education program that is funded by a voter-approved, 25 cent-per-pack tax and with money from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with the states, according to the Boston Globe.
The post-attacks increase is in sharp contrast to the period between 1993 and 1999, when the percentage of smokers in Massachusetts dropped from 22.6 to 20.9 percent -- or 80,000 fewer smokers. During that time, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day by adults declined nearly 20 percent. Youth smoking also dropped at a faster rate in Massachusetts than in other states.
The same trend is appearing across the country. A national survey done in October for the drug firm GlaxoSmithKline and the American Cancer Society found that smokers increased their cigarette use by 75 percent after the attacks, anthrax scares and security crackdown.
The same study showed that 19 percent of those who had quit relapsed, and another 6 percent took up smoking for the first time.