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Responsiveness to cigarette prices by different racial/ethnic groups of US adults


Objective To evaluate the impact of cigarette prices on adult smoking for four US racial/ethnic groups: whites, African–Americans, Asians and Hispanics.

Methods We analysed pooled cross-sectional data from the 2006/2007 and 2010/2011 Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (n=339 921 adults aged 18+) and cigarette price data from the Tax Burden on Tobacco. Using a two-part econometric model of cigarette demand that controlled for sociodemographic characteristics, state-level antismoking sentiment, local-level smoke-free air laws and monthly indicator, we estimated for each racial/ethnic group the price elasticities of smoking participation, smoking intensity and total demand for cigarettes.

Results Smoking prevalence for whites, African–Americans, Asians and Hispanics during the study period was 18.3%, 16.1%, 8.2% and 11.3%, respectively. The price elasticity of smoking participation was statistically significant for whites, African–Americans, Asians and Hispanics at −0.26, –0.10, −0.42 and −0.11, respectively. The price elasticity of smoking intensity was statistically significant among whites (−0.22) and African–Americans (−0.17). Overall, the total price elasticity of cigarette demand was statistically significant for all racial/ethnic groups: 0.48 for whites, −0.27 for African–Americans, −0.22 for Asians and −0.15 for Hispanics.

Conclusions Our results suggest that raising cigarette prices, such as via tobacco tax increases, would result in reduced cigarette consumption for all racial/ethnic groups. The magnitude of the effect and the impact on cessation and reduced smoking intensity differ across these groups.

  • price elasticity
  • smoking participation
  • smoking intensity
  • cigarette demand
  • race/ethnicity
  • U.S. adults

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