Tob Control doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050517
  • Research paper

Differential effects of cigarette price changes on adult smoking behaviours

  1. Laura Jean Bierut1
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
  2. 2Department of Mathematics, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
  3. 3Department of Economics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  4. 4Center for Tobacco Policy Research, School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
  5. 5Thomson Reuters Healthcare, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Patricia A Cavazos-Rehg, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8134, 660 South Euclid, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA; rehgp{at}
  • Received 6 March 2012
  • Accepted 10 October 2012
  • Published Online First 7 November 2012


Background Raising cigarette prices through taxation is an important policy approach to reduce smoking. Yet, cigarette price increases may not be equally effective in all subpopulations of smokers.

Purpose To examine differing effects of state cigarette price changes with individual changes in smoking among smokers of different intensity levels.

Methods Data were derived from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, a nationally representative sample of US adults originally interviewed in 2001–2002 (Wave 1) and re-interviewed in 2004–2005 (Wave 2): 34 653 were re-interviewed in Wave 2, and 7068 smokers defined at Wave 1 were included in our study. Mixed effects linear regression models were used to assess whether the effects of changes in state cigarette prices on changes in daily smoking behaviour differed by level of daily smoking.

Results In the multivariable model, there was a significant interaction between change in price per pack of cigarettes from Wave 1 to Wave 2 and the number of cigarettes smoked per day (p=0.044). The more cigarettes smoked per day at baseline, the more responsive the smokers were to increases in price per pack of cigarettes (ie, number of cigarettes smoked per day was reduced in response to price increases).

Conclusions Our findings that heavier smokers successfully and substantially reduced their cigarette smoking behaviours in response to state cigarette price increases provide fresh insight to the evidence on the effectiveness of higher cigarette prices in reducing smoking.

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