Introduction: Use of cigarette price-minimizing strategies may reduce the effectiveness of cigarette excise taxes on the prevalence of smoking. We examined the use of different price-minimizing strategies by smokers and their associations with subsequent smoking behaviors.
Methods: Seven hundred eighteen current smokers from the Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey Cohort Study provided information on the use of six different price-minimizing strategies in 2009; 602 of them were resurveyed in 2010 to assess their smoking behavior. Logistic regression was used to assess the effects of use of each strategy, use of at least one strategy, and the number of strategies used on quit smoking, attempted to quit, or cut back on cigarette consumption.
Results: Overall, 78% of participants used at least one price-minimizing strategy in 2009 to save money on cigarettes. About 53% reported buying from less expensive places, 49% used coupons or promotions, 42% purchased by the carton, and 34% changed to a cheaper brand. Participants' characteristics differed somewhat by strategy. Participants who reported buying by the carton were less likely to attempt to quit smoking and cut back on cigarette consumption subsequently; those who used more strategies were less likely to cut back on their cigarette consumption.
Conclusions: Use of cigarette price-minimizing strategies is common among smokers and appears to hinder smokers from attempting to quit and reducing cigarette consumption. Prohibiting the use of coupons and promotions may uphold the effect of cigarette taxes to reduce the prevalence of smoking.