Objective: To analyse the variation in demand for tobacco according to price of cigarettes across the European region.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: All the 52 countries of the European region.
Participants: For each European country, data were collected on annual per adult cigarette consumption (2000), smoking prevalence (most recent), retail price of a pack of local and foreign brand cigarettes (around 2000), the gross domestic product adjusted by purchasing power parities, and the adult population (2000).
Main outcome measure: Price elasticity of demand for cigarettes (that is, the change in cigarette consumption according to a change in tobacco price) across all the European countries, estimated by double-log multiple linear regression.
Results: Controlling for male to female prevalence ratio, price elasticities for consumption were −0.46 (95% confidence interval (CI) −0.74 to −0.17) and −0.74 (95% CI −1.13 to −0.35) for local and foreign brand, respectively. The inverse relation between cigarette price and consumption was stronger in countries not in the European Union (price elasticity for foreign brand cigarettes of −0.8) as compared to European Union countries (price elasticity of −0.4).
Conclusions: The result that, on average, in Europe smoking consumption decreases 5–7% for a 10% increase in the real price of cigarettes strongly supports an inverse association between price and cigarette smoking.
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SG and EF had the original idea for the study and drafted the paper. SG and AS collected and analysed the data. AS, CLV and JT contributed to study design and revised the manuscript. EF is the guarantor.
Funding: UICC International Cancer Technology Transfer Fellowship, Italian Association for Research on Cancer (AIRC), Italian Ministry of Health, Italian League Against Cancer, Spanish Ministry of Health (Research Networks on Cancer, RTICC C03/10, and Epidemiology and Public Health, RCESP C03/10), Catalan Ministry of Universities and Research (Thematic Network on Smoking Prevention, 2003XT/00090) and European Commission (Europe Against Cancer, European Network for Smoking Prevention, N° SI2.32443; 2001CVG2−008).
Competing interests: All authors declare that the answer to the questions on your competing interest form (http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/317/7154/291/DC1) are all “No” and therefore have nothing to declare.
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