Setting a floor price for a pack of cigarettes could reduce smoking more than tax increases, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of North Carolina.
[Photo: Dr. Douglas A. Luke (left) and Dr. Kurt M. Ribisi]
Minimum price laws (MPLs) are in effect in about half of U.S. states, but most rely on taxes, which can be offset by discounts offered by manufacturers or retailers. A new type of price law sets a floor price below which packs cannot be sold.
Researchers constructed a set of possible state floor price options and matched them to tax increases that would produce similar price increases, using data from participants in a 2010-11 Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey. Then, they projected changes in pack prices and cigarette consumption.
They found that a state floor would reduce cigarette consumption by about 4 percent, while a tax with a similar price effect would reduce consumption by 2.3 percent. A combination of both would reduce consumption by nearly 16 percent.
“By specifically targeting cheap prices more frequently reported by low-income smokers, MPLs may also be well positioned to reduce income-based smoking disparities, especially if implemented in conjunction with other price policies and low-cost cessation services,” the authors concluded.
Senior authors were Dr. Douglas A. Luke, professor at the Brown School; and Dr. Kurt M. Ribisi, professor at the University of North Carolina. The paper was published October 10 in Tobacco Control.