Cigarette price matters

| September 19, 2017

Researchers at Imperial College London have found an association between infant mortality rates and cigarette price differentials, according to a EurekAlert story citing a new study.

The authors were quoted as saying that eliminating budget cigarettes from the market might help to reduce infant deaths globally.

“Thanks to tax and price control measures, cigarettes in EU countries are more expensive than ever before,” said Dr. Filippos Filippidis, of Imperial’s School of Public Health and the lead author of the study. “However, the tobacco industry is good at finding loopholes to ensure that budget cigarettes remain available. In this study, we found that the availability of budget cigarettes is associated with more infant deaths.”

The study, published yesterday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, analysed nearly 54 million births across 23 EU countries from 2004 to 2014. The researchers obtained data on cigarette prices over this period and examined whether differences between average priced and budget cigarettes was linked to infant mortality rates.

And they found that during the 10 years under review, overall infant mortality declined in all countries from 4.4 deaths per 1,000 births in 2004 to 3.5 deaths per 1,000 births in 2014.

The cost of average priced cigarettes increased during this time in all the countries studied. The difference between average-priced and budget cigarettes varied from 12.8 percent to 26.0 percent over the study period.

The authors said that though EU governments had made cigarettes more expensive by increasing taxes, tobacco companies had responded with differential pricing strategies, where tax increases were loaded onto premium brands. This caused a price gap between higher and lower priced cigarettes that gave smokers the option to switch to cheaper products, making tax increases less effective.

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Category: Breaking News, Harm reduction, People, Tax

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