Availability of Cheap Tobacco Undermining Efforts to Cut Smoking


In a UK study, researchers at King’s College London and the University of Bath analyzed data from over 6,000 smokers to look at the price adults paid for tobacco between 2002
– 2014. The study compared buying tobacco from conventional outlets, such as grocery and convenience stores, with informal sellers, including friends and duty-free sources.

The researchers found that, by switching brands, smokers could easily and legally obtain tobacco in convenience stores at the same prices they would have paid in 2002. The price range comparing the cheapest and most expensive tobacco almost doubled over the 12 years.

The study argues that the widening gap between the cheapest and most expensive products is evidence that the tobacco industry is introducing a wider variety of brands to cater to smokers who want to buy cheaper.

Therefore, despite regular tax increases between 2002 –2014, factory-made cigarettes only increased slightly in price.

The study provided evidence that marked tax increases have not resulted in price increases large enough to deter smokers. The authors recommend that the price of all types of tobacco should be equally high so that smokers are discouraged from simply switching tobacco products to reduce costs
The researchers concluded that with disadvantaged smokers more likely to use cheap tobacco, and smoking rates significantly higher among poorer communities, its availability could also be contributing to the widening socio-economic disparities associated with smoking.

Source: Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)

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