Background: Cigarette consumption in Ukraine is increasing while the cigarettes are becoming more affordable due to low taxes and raising income. The impact of cigarette prices and taxes on cigarette consumption is unclear due to the limited research evidence using the local data. This study estimates the sensitivity of Ukraine population to cigarette prices and the affordability of cigarettes using the macro level data in order to predict the effectiveness of cigarette tax policy.
Methods: Monthly time-series data available from 1997 to 2006 in Ukraine were used to estimate the generalized least square model with an AR(1) process to investigate the impact of cigarette price/tax, household income, the affordability of cigarettes and the volume of tobacco advertising on Ukraine domestic cigarette sales while controlling for other factors.
Results: Our analyses demonstrate a strong positive association between cigarette sales and household income as well as a strong positive association between cigarette sales and tobacco advertising activity. The population is found to have relatively low sensitivity to cigarette prices and cigarette taxes, but the impact of cigarettes' affordability is statistically significant, even though also of low magnitude.
Conclusion: We speculate that the lower sensitivity to cigarette prices among Ukraine population is caused by wide price variation allowing smokers to avoid a price increase by brand substitution as well as by low costs of cigarettes, high social acceptance of smoking and limited effort to control tobacco use in Ukraine. Narrowing the cigarette price choices and increasing cigarette prices above the level of inflation and income growth by adopting the appropriate tax policy would likely increase the effectiveness of this tool for controlling the smoking rate in Ukraine as well as yield additional budget revenue gains. In addition, imposing advertising restriction may further help reducing the smoking prevalence.