Cigarette price-minimization strategies by U.S. smokers

Am J Prev Med. 2013 May;44(5):472-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.01.019.


Background: Smokers may react to cigarette excise tax increases by engaging in price-minimization strategies (i.e., finding ways to reduce the cost of cigarette smoking) rather than by quitting or reducing their cigarette use, thereby reducing the public health benefits of such tax increases.

Purpose: To evaluate the state and national prevalence of five common cigarette price-minimization strategies and the size of price reductions obtained from these strategies.

Methods: Using data from the 2009-2010 National Adult Tobacco Survey, the prevalence of five common price-minimization strategies by type of strategy and by smoker's cigarette consumption level were estimated. The price reductions associated with these price-minimization strategies also were evaluated. Analyses took place in November 2012.

Results: Approximately 55.4% of U.S. adult smokers used at least one of five price-minimization strategies in the previous year, with an average reduction of $1.27 per pack (22.0%). Results varied widely by state.

Conclusions: Cigarette price-minimization strategies are practiced widely among current smokers, and resulting price reductions are relatively large. Policies that decrease opportunities to effectively apply cigarette price-minimization strategies would increase the public health gains of cigarette excise tax increases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cost Savings / methods*
  • Humans
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Taxes
  • Tobacco Products / economics*
  • United States / epidemiology