Introduction: China is the biggest tobacco producer and consumer in the world. Raising cigarette taxes and increasing tobacco retail prices have been prove as effective strategies to reduce tobacco consumption and the prevalence of smoking in western countries. But in China, it is uncertain how an increase of cigarette retail price will influence the tobacco consumption.
Methods: From April to July, 2012, we selected 4025 residents over 15 years by a three stage random sampling in four cities, Jiangxi Province, China. We conducted interviews of their current smoking habits and how they would change their smoking behavior if tobacco retail prices increase.
Results: Overall, the prevalence of smoking is 27 % (47 % for male, 3.1 % for female). 15 % of smokers have tried to quit smoking in the past but all relapsed (168/1088), and over 50 % of current smokers do not want to quit, The average cigarette price per pack is 1.1 USD (range = 0.25-5.0). If retail cigarette prices increases by 50 %, 45 % of smokers say they will smoke fewer cigarettes, 20 % will change to cheaper brands and 5 % will attempt to quit smoking. Smokers who have intention to quit smoking are more sensitive to retail cigarette price increase. With retail cigarette price increases, more smokers will attempt to quit smoking.
Conclusion: Chinese smokers will change their smoking habits if tobacco retail prices increase. Consequently the Chinese government should enact tobacco laws which increase the retail cigarette price. The implementation of new tobacco laws could result in lowering the prevalence of smoking. Meanwhile, price increase measures need to apply to all cigarette brands to avoid smokers switching cigarettes to cheaper brands.
Keywords: Smoking habit change; Tobacco law legislation; Tobacco retail price increase.