Do cigarette prices near secondary schools vary by area-level socioeconomic status? Findings from a field study in Ontario and Québec, Canada

Health Place. 2023 Jan;79:102936. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2022.102936. Epub 2022 Dec 6.


Objectives: To examine, in the context of youth smoking, whether cigarette prices near secondary schools varied by area-level socioeconomic status in Southwestern and Central Ontario, and the greater Montréal region.

Methods: We collected cigarette prices four times between 2016 and 2019 from stores near secondary schools and used mixed-effects and ordinary least squares regressions.

Results: We found consistent evidence that cigarette prices near secondary schools were lower in neighbourhoods with lower area-level household income, and that differences were large enough to be meaningful. In Ontario and Québec, our results indicate a Can$0.26 [0.04, 0.47] to Can$0.51 [0.33, 0.69] and Can$0.10 [-0.04, 0.24] to Can$0.37 [0.22, 0.52] difference in prices for a pack of 25 cigarettes between neighbourhoods with a median household income standard deviation below/above the provincial median, respectively.

Conclusion: Policy changes that limit area-level cigarette price differences without lowering cigarette prices may reduce inequities in youth smoking.

Keywords: Canada; Cigarette; Neighbourhood; Ontario; Price; Québec.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Commerce*
  • Humans
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Schools
  • Social Class
  • Taxes
  • Tobacco Products*