Cigarette purchasing behaviors when prices are high

J Public Health Manag Pract. 2004 Nov-Dec;10(6):497-500. doi: 10.1097/00124784-200411000-00004.


The objective of this study was to assess the cigarette purchase patterns of smokers in Erie and Niagara Counties following recent increases in the state excise tax for cigarettes. Data were collected with telephone interviews of a sample of 1,548 randomly selected people in Erie and Niagara Counties between October 2002 and March 2003. Purchase patterns were assessed for the 908 smokers in the sample who responded to questions about cigarette purchasing patterns. Thirty-three percent reported that their usual source of cigarettes is from a small store, large store, pharmacy, or vending machine, while 67% reported that their usual source is from an Indian reservation. Only one smoker reported the Internet was a usual source of cigarettes. The average price paid per pack was $4.80 in a small store and $1.91 on an Indian reservation. Price influences smoking behavior; however, the majority of smokers are taking advantage of readily available venues where less expensive, untaxed cigarettes are sold. This may undermine the public health benefit of higher prices and cause lost revenue to state and local governments.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Commerce / economics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Taxes / economics
  • Tobacco*