Objective: To analyse the variation in demand for tobacco according to price of cigarettes across the European region.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: All the 52 countries of the European region.
Participants: For each European country, data were collected on annual per adult cigarette consumption (2000), smoking prevalence (most recent), retail price of a pack of local and foreign brand cigarettes (around 2000), the gross domestic product adjusted by purchasing power parities, and the adult population (2000).
Main outcome measure: Price elasticity of demand for cigarettes (that is, the change in cigarette consumption according to a change in tobacco price) across all the European countries, estimated by double-log multiple linear regression.
Results: Controlling for male to female prevalence ratio, price elasticities for consumption were -0.46 (95% confidence interval (CI) -0.74 to -0.17) and -0.74 (95% CI -1.13 to -0.35) for local and foreign brand, respectively. The inverse relation between cigarette price and consumption was stronger in countries not in the European Union (price elasticity for foreign brand cigarettes of -0.8) as compared to European Union countries (price elasticity of -0.4).
Conclusions: The result that, on average, in Europe smoking consumption decreases 5-7% for a 10% increase in the real price of cigarettes strongly supports an inverse association between price and cigarette smoking.