Australian smokers' and recent quitters' responses to the increasing price of cigarettes in the context of a tobacco tax increase

Addiction. 2011 Sep;106(9):1687-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03492.x. Epub 2011 Jul 22.


Aims: To track smokers' responses to the increasing price of cigarettes after a tax increase, and assess socio-demographic differences in responses.

Design: The Cancer Institute NSW's Tobacco Tracking Survey (CITTS) is a continuous tracking telephone survey. Weekly data were collected between May and September 2010.

Settings: New South Wales, Australia.

Participants: A total of 834 smokers and 163 recent quitters (quit in last 12 months).

Measurements: Responses to the price increase included smoking-related changes (tried to quit, cut down) and product-related changes (changed to lower priced brands, started using loose tobacco, bought in bulk). Recent quitters were asked how much the increasing price of cigarettes influenced them to quit.

Findings: Overall, 47.5% of smokers made smoking-related changes and 11.4% made product-related changes without making smoking-related changes. Multinomial logistic regressions showed that younger smokers (versus older) were more likely to make product-related changes and smoking-related changes in comparison to no changes. Low- or moderate-income smokers (versus high-income) were more likely to make smoking-related changes compared to no changes. Highly addicted smokers (versus low addicted) were more likely to make product-related changes and less likely to make smoking-related changes. The proportion of smokers making only product-related changes decreased with time, while smoking-related changes increased. Recent quitters who quit after the tax increase (versus before) were more likely to report that price influenced them.

Conclusions: The effect of increasing cigarette prices on smoking does not appear to be mitigated by using cheaper cigarette products or sources. These results support the use of higher cigarette prices to encourage smoking cessation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Commerce
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Cessation / economics
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Taxes*
  • Telephone
  • Time Factors
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / economics
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control
  • Young Adult