Smaller Cigarette Pack as a Commitment to Smoke Less? Insights from Behavioral Economics

PLoS One. 2015 Sep 10;10(9):e0137520. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137520. eCollection 2015.


Cigarettes are commonly sold in packs of 20 units and therefore little is known about the potential impact of pack size on consumption. Using insights from behavioral economics, we suggest that cigarette packs smaller than the standard size may help some smokers cut back and/or quit, consistent with their long-term goals. Results from an online hypothetical purchase experiment conducted in a sample of US smokers reveal that over a third of smokers are willing to pay a price premium to purchase in smaller quantities. Further, a desire to quit smoking and high self-control is associated with preference for a smaller pack. While we provide some preliminary evidence that smaller packs may be beneficial to certain types of smokers, further research should be conducted to assess whether the smaller pack size should be considered in the arsenal of tobacco control policies to help current smokers quit (JEL: I18; I12; D12).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior
  • Economics, Behavioral*
  • Humans
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Tobacco Products / economics*