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Tobacco manufacturer lobbying to undercut minimum price laws: an analysis of internal industry documents


Background Increasing the price of tobacco products has the potential to reduce tobacco consumption. As other forms of promotion have been increasingly restricted over time, tobacco manufacturers have relied more on trade discounts. Minimum price laws that prevented the use of manufacturer promotions were once common; however in most US jurisdictions these discounts are now legally protected.

Methods We collected tobacco industry documents, state legislation and court cases between 1987 and 2016 to review tobacco manufacturer strategies to change minimum price laws in the USA.

Results Beginning in 2000, tobacco manufacturers lobbied to amend minimum price legislation after state regulators indicated that manufacturer promotions were illegal under existing laws. Companies viewed changing these laws as critical to maintaining tobacco sales, and after the initiation of an industry lobbying campaign, at least 20 states changed the way they calculated tobacco prices.

Conclusions Modifying existing minimum price laws so that manufacturer discounts are no longer protected, and implementing new minimum price policies with comparable scope, would likely increase prices and reduce tobacco use.

  • advertising and promotion
  • advocacy
  • price
  • public policy
  • tobacco industry documents

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