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The association of retail promotions for cigarettes with the Master Settlement Agreement, tobacco control programmes and cigarette excise taxes


Background: Retail stores are the primary medium for marketing cigarettes to smokers in the US. The prevalence and characteristics of cigarette retail advertising and promotions have been described by several investigators. Less is known about the proportion of cigarette sales occurring as part of a retail promotion and about the effects of tobacco control policies on cigarette promotions.

Objective: To estimate the effect of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), state tobacco control programme funding and cigarette taxes on retail promotions for cigarettes in supermarkets in the US.

Outcome measures: Proportion of cigarette sales occurring under a retail promotion and the value of multipack promotions (eg, buy one pack, get one pack free) and cents-off promotions, measured using scanner data in supermarkets from 50 retail market areas from 1994 to 2004.

Results: Promoted cigarette sales have increased significantly since the MSA (p<0.01), and are higher in market areas with high tobacco control programme funding (p<0.01) and high cigarette tax (p<0.01). The value of a multipack promotion is higher since the MSA (p<0.01) and in market areas with high cigarette tax (p<0.01). The value of a cents-off promotion is negatively related to the MSA (p<0.01), with mixed results for tobacco control programme funding (p<0.05), and is unassociated with tax.

Conclusions: Higher promoted cigarette sales and increased promotional values in market areas with strong tobacco control policies, compared with market areas with weaker tobacco control policies, may partially offset the decline in smoking achieved in those areas.

  • CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • MSA, Master Settlement Agreement

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