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Changes in roll-your-own tobacco and cigarette sales volume and prices before, during and after plain packaging legislation in the UK
  1. Magdalena Opazo Breton1,
  2. John Britton2,
  3. Ilze Bogdanovica2,3
  1. 1 UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  2. 2 Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  3. 3 UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ilze Bogdanovica, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK; Ilze.Bogdanovica{at}


Background Plain packaging and minimum pack size legislation for tobacco products was introduced in the UK in May 2016, with a 1-year sell-off period until May 2017, during which both fully branded and plain packs of various sizes were legally available. This study investigates trends in prices of roll-your-own tobacco (RYO) before, during and after implementation of this legislation, and compares trends with those observed in the cigarette market.

Methods We used Nielsen Scantrack data for the period from March 2013 to June 2018 to describe trends in UK inflation-adjusted prices and volumes of both RYO and cigarettes, and linear regression to estimate changes in prices associated with the introduction of plain packaging and the minimum pack sizes of 30 g RYO and 20 cigarettes.

Results In contrast to a downward trend in cigarette sales volumes, RYO volumes rose throughout the study period. By the time plain packs accounted for 75% or more of sales, the average price of products sold in equivalent pack sizes had increased, relative to average prices in the year before implementation and with adjustment for tax changes, from 34.9 to 38.8 pence per gram for RYO (mean difference 4.26, 95% CI 3.99 to 4.53 pence, 12% increase), and from 38.6 to 41.13 pence for cigarettes (mean difference 2.53, 95% CI 2.24 to 2.83 pence, 7% increase) per cigarette.

Conclusions New legislation resulted in higher prices for RYO and manufactured cigarettes. However, sales volumes of RYO continued to increase throughout the study period, perhaps because RYO remains a less expensive means of smoking tobacco.

  • plain packaging
  • prices
  • roll-your-own tobacco

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  • Contributors MOB, JB and IB designed the study and wrote the manuscript. MOB analysed the data. IB obtained funding for the study.

  • Funding This work was supported by Cancer Research UK (grant number C45256/A20606).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

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