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Research paper
A cross-country study of cigarette prices and affordability: evidence from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey
  1. Deliana Kostova1,
  2. Frank J Chaloupka2,
  3. Ayda Yurekli3,
  4. Hana Ross4,
  5. Rajeev Cherukupalli5,
  6. Linda Andes1,
  7. Samira Asma1,
  8. on behalf of the GATS Collaborative Group
  1. 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2Health Policy Center, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. 3World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  4. 4American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  5. 5Bloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Deliana Kostova, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy, MS F16, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA; kiv0{at}


Objective To describe the characteristics of two primary determinants of cigarette consumption: cigarette affordability and the range of prices paid for cigarettes (and bidis, where applicable) in a set of 15 countries. From this cross-country comparison, identify places where opportunities may exist for reducing consumption through tax adjustments.

Data Self-response data from 45,838 smokers from 15 countries, obtained from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2008–2011.

Design Using self-response data on individual cigarette expenditure and consumption, we construct a measure of the average cigarette price smokers pay for manufactured cigarettes (and bidis, where applicable) in 15 countries. We use these prices to evaluate cigarette affordability and the range of prices available in each country. These survey-derived measures of cigarette price and affordability are uniquely suited for cross-country comparison because they represent each country's distinctive mix of individual consumption characteristics such as brand choice, intensity of consumption, and purchasing behavior.

Results In this sample of countries, cigarettes are most affordable in Russia, which has the most room for tobacco tax increase. Affordability is also relatively high in Brazil and China for cigarettes, and in India and Bangladesh for bidis. Although the affordability of cigarettes in India is relatively low, the range of cigarette prices paid is relatively high, providing additional evidence to support the call for simplifying the existing tax structure and reducing the width of price options. China has both high affordability and wide price ranges, suggesting multiple opportunities for reducing consumption through tax adjustments.

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. A sentence has been added to the first page of the article to inform the reader of the online appendix.

  • Competing interests None.

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

  • Data sharing statement All data included in this study are publicly available through the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.