Objective This paper examines trends in cigarette prices and corresponding purchasing patterns over a 9-year period and explores characteristics associated with the quantity and location of cigarettes purchased by adult smokers in the USA.
Methods The data for this paper come from a nationally representative longitudinal survey of 6669 adult smokers (18 years and older) who were recruited and surveyed between 2002 and 2011. Telephone interviews were conducted annually, and smokers were asked a series of questions about the location, quantity (ie, single vs multiple packs or cartons) and price paid for their most recent cigarette purchase. Generalised estimating equations were used to assess trends and model characteristics associated with cigarette purchasing behaviours.
Results Between 2002 and 2011, the reported purchase of cigarette cartons and the use of coupons declined while multipack purchases increased. Compared with those purchasing by single packs, those who purchased by multipacks and cartons saved an average of $0.53 and $1.63, respectively. Purchases in grocery and discount stores declined, while purchases in tobacco only outlets increased slightly. Female, older, white smokers were more likely to purchase cigarettes by the carton or in multipacks and in locations commonly associated with tax avoidance (ie, duty free shops, Indian reservations).
Conclusions As cigarette prices have risen, smokers have begun purchasing via multipacks instead of cartons. As carton sales have declined, purchases from grocery and discount stores have also declined, while an increasing number of smokers report low tax sources as their usual purchase location for cigarettes.
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