SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • Behavioral economics;
  • cigarette demand;
  • nicotine dependence;
  • tax policy

Abstract

Aims

Novel methods in behavioral economics permit the systematic assessment of the relationship between cigarette consumption and price. Towards informing tax policy, the goals of this study were to conduct a high-resolution analysis of cigarette demand in a large sample of adult smokers and to use the data to estimate the effects of tax increases in 10 US States.

Design

In-person descriptive survey assessment.

Setting

Academic departments at three universities.

Participants

Adult daily smokers (i.e. more than five cigarettes/day; 18+ years old; ≥8th grade education); n = 1056.

Measurements

Estimated cigarette demand, demographics, expired carbon monoxide.

Findings

The cigarette demand curve exhibited highly variable levels of price sensitivity, especially in the form of ‘left-digit effects’ (i.e. very high price sensitivity as pack prices transitioned from one whole number to the next; e.g. $5.80–6/pack). A $1 tax increase in the 10 states was projected to reduce the economic burden of smoking by an average of $530.6 million (range: $93.6–976.5 million) and increase gross tax revenue by an average of 162% (range: 114–247%).

Conclusions

Tobacco price sensitivity is non-linear across the demand curve and in particular for pack-level left-digit price transitions. Tax increases in US states with similar price and tax rates to the sample are projected to result in substantial decreases in smoking-related costs and substantial increases in tax revenues.