Cigarette Pack Prices and Sales Following Policy Changes in California, 2011-2018

Am J Public Health. 2020 Jul;110(7):1002-1005. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2020.305647. Epub 2020 May 21.


Objectives. To estimate the combined effect of California's Tobacco 21 law (enacted June 2016) and $2-per-pack cigarette excise tax increase (enacted April 2017) on cigarette prices and sales, compared with matched comparator states.Methods. We used synthetic control methods to compare cigarette prices and sales after the policies were enacted, relative to what we would have expected without the policy reforms. To estimate the counterfactual, we matched pre-reform covariate and outcome trends between California and control states to construct a "synthetic" California.Results. Compared with the synthetic control in 2018, cigarette prices in California were $1.89 higher ($7.86 vs $5.97; P < .001), and cigarette sales were 16.6% lower (19.9 vs 16.6 packs per capita; P < .001). This reduction in sales equates to 153.9 million fewer packs being sold between 2017 and 2018.Conclusions. California's new cigarette tax was largely passed on to consumers. The new cigarette tax, combined with the Tobacco 21 law, have contributed to a rapid and substantial reduction in cigarette consumption in California.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Consumer Behavior / economics
  • Humans
  • Public Policy*
  • Smoking / economics
  • State Government
  • Taxes*
  • Tobacco Industry / economics
  • Tobacco Products / economics*
  • Tobacco Products / statistics & numerical data