Cigarette availability and price in low and high socioeconomic areas

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2013 Aug;37(4):371-6. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12086.


Objective: To determine whether tobacco retailer density and cigarette prices differ between low and high socioeconomic status suburbs in South-East Queensland.

Methods: A survey of retail outlets selling cigarettes was conducted in selected suburbs over a two-day period. The suburbs were identified by geographical cluster sampling based on their Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage score and size of retail complex within the suburb. All retail outlets within the suburb were visited and the retail prices for the highest ranking Australian brands were recorded at each outlet.

Results: A significant relationship was found between Index of Relative Socioeconomic Advantage and Disadvantage score (in deciles) and the number of tobacco retail outlets (r=0.93, p=0.003), with the most disadvantaged suburbs having a greater number of tobacco retailers. Results also demonstrate that cigarettes were sold in a broader range of outlets in suburbs of low SES. The average price of the packs studied was significantly lower in the most disadvantaged suburbs compared to the most advantaged. While cigarettes were still generally cheaper in the most disadvantaged suburbs, the difference was no longer statistically significant when the average price of cigarette packs was compared according to outlet type (supermarket, newsagent, etc).

Conclusions: In South-East Queensland, cigarettes are more widely available in the most disadvantaged suburbs and at lower prices than in the most advantaged suburbs.

Keywords: cigarette affordability; cigarette availability; price; socioeconomic status; tobacco retail density.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Queensland
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Tobacco Products / economics*
  • Tobacco Products / supply & distribution*