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Public support in England for raising the price of cigarettes to fund tobacco control activities
  1. Benjamin Gardner1,2,
  2. Robert West1,2
  1. 1University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert West, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 2-16 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK; robert.west{at}


Objective Increasing the price of cigarettes reduces consumption, with a global price elasticity of approximately −0.4. In the UK where the cost of cigarettes is already relatively high, there is an issue surrounding public acceptance of further price rises ahead of the inflation rate. Previous research suggests that price increases may be supported where funds are dedicated to tobacco control. This study assessed public support in England for such a policy.

Methods A cross-sectional household survey was conducted in England between August 2008 and January 2009. A representative sample of 8736 respondents aged 16+, of whom 1900 (22%) were cigarette smokers at the time of the survey, was recruited. The primary outcome measure was support for a 20p (4%) price increase on a pack of cigarettes with proceeds going to fund tobacco control activities.

Results 6216 participants (71%), including half (47%) of current cigarette smokers, indicated that they would support a 20p price increase if funds were dedicated to tobacco control activities. Levels of support among smokers were similar across the social gradient and gender. Younger smokers were more likely to support the increase. Smokers who smoked 0–10 cigarettes per day were more supportive of the increase than heavier smokers.

Conclusions There is broad public support for raising the cost of cigarettes with funds being used for tobacco control activities. The absence of a social gradient among smokers concurs with other research showing that more disadvantaged smokers are as engaged with tobacco control objectives as more affluent smokers.

  • Public policy
  • taxation and price
  • public opinion polls

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  • Funding Cancer Research UK, PO Box 123, London WC2A 3PX. The study team is part of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies.

  • Competing interests BG has no competing interests. RW undertakes research and consultancy for, and has received travel expenses and hospitality from, companies that develop and market smoking cessation medications. RW has a share in a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.