As countries improve their cigarette tax policy, cigarette consumption declines

Tob Control. 2022 Dec 20;tobaccocontrol-2022-057486. doi: 10.1136/tc-2022-057486. Online ahead of print.


Background: This study examines the association between the Tobacconomics cigarette tax scores and cigarette consumption in 97 countries during the period of 2014-2020.

Methods: Data on countries' retail cigarette sales and overall cigarette tax scores from 2014 to 2020 are drawn from the proprietary Euromonitor International database and the Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard (second edition). Information on countries' tobacco control environments and demographic characteristics is from the relevant years' WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, and the World Bank's World Development Indicators database. Ordinary least squares regressions are employed to examine the link between countries' overall cigarette tax scores and cigarette consumption. All regressions control for countries' tobacco control environments, countries' demographic characteristics, year indicators and country fixed effects.

Results: Each unit increase in the overall cigarette tax scores is significantly associated with a reduction of 9% in countries' per-capita cigarette consumption during 2014-2020. The reduction is more pronounced in low and middle-income countries (9%) than in high-income countries (6%). The modest improvement in scores from 2014 to 2020 is associated with a reduction of 3.27% in consumption, while consumption could have been reduced by 20.74% had countries implemented optimal tax policies that would earn the highest score of 5.

Conclusions: Our results provide evidence on the association between higher cigarette tax scores and lower cigarette consumption. To reduce tobacco consumption, governments must strive to implement all four components in the Cigarette Tax Scorecard at the highest level.

Keywords: price; public policy; taxation.