Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of tobcontTobacco ControlVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Tob Control. 2005 April; 14(2): 86–92.
PMCID: PMC1748009

Higher cigarette prices influence cigarette purchase patterns


Objective: To examine cigarette purchasing patterns of current smokers and to determine the effects of cigarette price on use of cheaper sources, discount/generic cigarettes, and coupons.

Background: Higher cigarette prices result in decreased cigarette consumption, but price sensitive smokers may seek lower priced or tax-free cigarette sources, especially if they are readily available. This price avoidance behaviour costs states excise tax money and dampens the health impact of higher cigarette prices.

Methods: Telephone survey data from 3602 US smokers who were originally in the COMMIT (community intervention trial for smoking cessation) study were analysed to assess cigarette purchase patterns, use of discount/generic cigarettes, and use of coupons.

Results: 59% reported engaging in a high price avoidance strategy, including 34% who regularly purchase from a low or untaxed venue, 28% who smoke a discount/generic cigarette brand, and 18% who report using cigarette coupons more frequently that they did five years ago. The report of engaging in a price avoidance strategy was associated with living within 40 miles of a state or Indian reservation with lower cigarette excise taxes, higher average cigarette consumption, white, non-Hispanic race/ethnicity, and female sex.

Conclusion: Data from this study indicate that most smokers are price sensitive and seek out measures to purchase less expensive cigarettes, which may decrease future cessation efforts.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (162K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Chaloupka FJ, Cummings KM, Morley CP, Horan JK. Tax, price and cigarette smoking: evidence from the tobacco documents and implications for tobacco company marketing strategies. Tob Control. 2002 Mar;11 (Suppl 1):I62–I72. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Emery S, White MM, Gilpin EA, Pierce JP. Was there significant tax evasion after the 1999 50 cent per pack cigarette tax increase in California? Tob Control. 2002 Jun;11(2):130–134. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Cummings KM, Hyland A, Lewit E, Shopland D. Use of discount cigarettes by smokers in 20 communities in the United States, 1988-1993. Tob Control. 1997;6 (Suppl 2):S25–S30. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Gruber Jonathan, Sen Anindya, Stabile Mark. Estimating price elasticities when there is smuggling: the sensitivity of smoking to price in Canada. J Health Econ. 2003 Sep;22(5):821–842. [PubMed]
  • Yurekli AA, Zhang P. The impact of clean indoor-air laws and cigarette smuggling on demand for cigarettes: an empirical model. Health Econ. 2000 Mar;9(2):159–170. [PubMed]
  • Hrywna M, Delnevo CD, Staniewska D. Prevalence and correlates of internet cigarette purchasing among adult smokers in New Jersey. Tob Control. 2004 Sep;13(3):296–300. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hyland Andrew, Higbee Cheryl, Bauer Joseph E, Giovino Gary A, Cummings K Michael. Cigarette purchasing behaviors when prices are high. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2004 Nov-Dec;10(6):497–500. [PubMed]
  • Cavin SW, Pierce JP. Low-cost cigarettes and smoking behavior in California, 1990-1993. Am J Prev Med. 1996 Jan-Feb;12(1):17–21. [PubMed]
  • Bryant JA, Cody MJ, Murphy ST. Online sales: profit without question. Tob Control. 2002 Sep;11(3):226–227. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Tobacco Control are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group