Background: Smokers use cigarette expenditure minimising strategies (CEMS) to alleviate the effect of tax increases on their cigarette expenses. We examined changes in smokers' CEMS use before and after a 2013 Minnesota $1.75 cigarette tax increase.
Methods: Data were from representative samples of smokers who participated in the Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey 2010 (n=948) and 2014 (n=1229). Participants indicated CEMS used in the past year from a list. Weighted multiple logistic regressions were used to examine changes in prevalence of each CEMS use over time adjusting for demographics and cigarette consumption. Characteristics associated with CEMS use in 2014 were examined.
Results: Between 2010 and 2014, more smokers tried to save money on cigarettes by rolling their own cigarettes (from 19% to 29%), using other tobacco products (from 13% to 25%), and buying cigarettes from cheaper places (from 48% to 55%). Yet, fewer smokers used coupons/promotions (from 63% to 50%) and bought cigarettes by the carton (from 39% to 32%). These changes varied somewhat by race/ethnicity and education, for example, more smokers with <high school education used discount brands over time than more educated smokers. CEMS use in 2014 varied by demographics, for example, smokers with lower education were more likely than those with higher education to purchase discount brands, roll their own cigarettes, use coupons/promotions and cut back on smoking (p<0.05).
Conclusions: Socially disadvantaged smokers were most likely to use CEMS and continue smoking after a cigarette tax increase. Regulations that would reduce CEMS use could boost the effectiveness of cigarette tax increases.
Keywords: Cigarette tax; price-minimization; smoking; tax avoidance.
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