246938 Price minimizing behaviors of smokers: Implications for policy

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jeong Kyu Lee, PhD , Research Program, ClearWay Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Joanne D'Silva, MPH , Research Department, ClearWay Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Ann W. St. Claire, MPH , ClearWay Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Ann M. Kinney, PhD , Minnesota Center for Health Statistics, Minnesota Department of Health, St. Paul, MN
Megan Whittet, MPH , Research Program, ClearWay Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Raymond G. Boyle, PhD, MPH , Research Program, ClearWay Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Raising the price of cigarettes is an effective tobacco control strategy that leads to decreased cigarette consumption and increased quitting, while also discouraging youth initiation. As a result, public health efforts have focused on raising the cost of cigarettes, primarily through taxation. In Minnesota taxes have raised the average price per pack of cigarettes by more than $2 since 2005. However, recent studies have revealed that smokers often modify their purchasing patterns to reduce the impact of price increases. Yet few studies have considered raising the price of cigarettes in the context of other policy approaches, such as regulation of industry marketing.

We had an opportunity in a large population study, the Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey, to look at smokers' behavior during 2010, amidst the economic downturn. This paper examines differential patterns of price minimizing behaviors among current smokers (N = 898). We found that 87% of Minnesota smokers engaged in some form of price minimizing behavior including buying a cheaper brand (34%); finding a less expensive place to buy cigarettes (51%); and using coupons, rebates, and other promotions (66%). Regression analyses revealed that smokers who modify their purchasing behaviors are more likely to be younger, lower income and less likely to make a quit attempt. These findings suggest industry tactics, such as coupons, have been effective in countering taxation efforts. Consistent with the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, there is a need to complement taxation strategies with local policy efforts to regulate the marketing of tobacco products.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain why increasing the price of cigarettes is an effective tobacco control strategy. 2. Identify which price minimizing behaviors smokers engage in following an increase in the price of cigarettes. 3. Discuss the implications of price minimizing behaviors for local policy efforts.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I analyzed the data used in the abstract and took the lead of it
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.