Potential advantages and disadvantages of an endgame strategy: a ‘sinking lid’ on tobacco supply
- Correspondence to Associate Professor Nick Wilson, Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 7343, Wellington South, Wellington 6002, New Zealand;
- Received 18 September 2012
- Revised 21 November 2012
- Accepted 11 December 2012
Background One possible supply-side strategy for the tobacco endgame is a government-mandated ‘sinking lid’ on tobacco supply (tradeable but decreasing quotas on sales or imports).
Methods We considered literature on quota systems and from a tobacco endgame workshop at the University of Michigan.
Findings Likely strengths of the sinking lid strategy include: (1) that it can provide a clear timetable and an unambiguous signal of a tobacco end-date; (2) that supply reduction is likely to increase product price levels, and there is very strong evidence that increasing price is a highly effective tobacco control intervention. Its feasibility is also supported by the growing international experience with, and political acceptability of, using quota and auction systems in other domains (eg, greenhouse gases, other air pollutants and for fisheries). However, the main disadvantages of this strategy are probably the need for strong political will and high public support (to pass a new law), potential legal challenges by industry (eg, under trade agreements), and vulnerability to problems from illegal supplies of tobacco and from corruption.
Conclusions The sinking lid strategy is a plausible option that is worth considering when investigating possible tobacco endgame strategies, though it may be most applicable in well-organised jurisdictions with low (<15%) adult smoking prevalence. This idea could benefit from further research, such as studies in virtual worlds, and real-world testing on small island jurisdictions, or closed systems, such as military bases.
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