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Impact of three annual tobacco tax rises on tobacco sales in remote Australian Aboriginal community stores
  1. David P Thomas1,
  2. Emma McMahon2,
  3. Zhiqiang Wang1,
  4. Michelle M Scollo3,
  5. Sarah J Durkin3
  1. 1Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
  2. 2Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Centre for Behavioural Research, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor David P Thomas, Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia; david.thomas{at}


Background There is strong evidence from many settings that tobacco tax rises which increase prices reduce tobacco consumption, but only limited evidence from Indigenous settings.

Methods We analysed 3 years (2016–2018) of weekly sales data from 32 stores in remote Aboriginal communities. We used interrupted time series analysis to estimate the immediate impact of the price rice following annual 12.5% tobacco tax rises on sales on (A) stick equivalents of tobacco and (B) fruit and vegetables (kg) per $A1000 of grocery sales, and on the trend in sales between price rises.

Results We detected 5.8% and 8.2% immediate declines in tobacco sales following the price rises associated with annual 12.5% tax rises in 2016 and 2018, and a non-significant decline (1.6%) following the 2017 tax rise. Decreased sales were mainly driven by declines in mainstream and premium factory-made cigarettes. Fruit and vegetable sales did not change at the time of tobacco price rises.

Conclusion For the first time, we demonstrated evidence of price-sensitivity and the immediate impact of price rises from tobacco tax rises on tobacco sales in remote Aboriginal communities. We acknowledge that Australia already has very high tobacco taxation and prices, but recommend further increases to the taxation of roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco to prevent smokers and industry using cheaper RYO cigarettes to undermine this impact of high tobacco taxes and prices.

  • taxation
  • priority/special populations
  • price
  • public policy

Statistics from


  • Contributors DPT drafted the manuscript, with contributions from all authors. SJD conducted the analyses. ZW advised on the statistical analyses. All authors contributed to research design and interpretation of findings, reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding EM is supported by a cofunded National Heart and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Heart Foundation Early Career Fellowship (100085).

  • Competing interests SD and MS are employed by a non-profit organisation that conducts public health interventions and advocacy aimed at reducing the harms of tobacco in the community, especially those pertaining to cancer.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Human Research Ethics Committee of the Northern Territory Department of Health and Menzies School of Health Research (#2018-3210).

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

  • Data availability statement No data are available.

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