Objective: To examine tobacco company documents to determine what the companies knew about the impact of cigarette prices on smoking among youth, young adults, and adults, and to evaluate how this understanding affected their pricing and price related marketing strategies.
Methods: Data for this study come from tobacco industry documents contained in the Youth and Marketing database created by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and available through http:// roswell.tobaccodocuments.org, supplemented with documents obtained from http://www.tobaccodocuments.org.
Results: Tobacco company documents provide clear evidence on the impact of cigarette prices on cigarette smoking, describing how tax related and other price increases lead to significant reductions in smoking, particularly among young persons. This information was very important in developing the industry's pricing strategies, including the development of lower price branded generics and the pass through of cigarette excise tax increases, and in developing a variety of price related marketing efforts, including multi-pack discounts, couponing, and others.
Conclusions: Pricing and price related promotions are among the most important marketing tools employed by tobacco companies. Future tobacco control efforts that aim to raise prices and limit price related marketing efforts are likely to be important in achieving reductions in tobacco use and the public health toll caused by tobacco.