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Open Access Research article

How smokers may react to cigarette taxes and price increases in Brazil: data from a national survey

Analice Gigliotti1*, Valeska C Figueiredo2, Clarice S Madruga1, Ana CPR Marques1, Ilana Pinsky1, Raul Caetano13, Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva2, Martin Raw4 and Ronaldo Laranjeira1

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute for Alcohol and Drug Policies (INPAD), Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

2 Center for Studies on Tobacco and Health, National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3 UT Southwestern School of Health Professional & UT School of Public Health, Dallas Regional Campus, Dallas, TX, USA

4 UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:327  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-327

Published: 8 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Despite being the third largest tobacco producer in the world, Brazil has developed a comprehensive tobacco control policy that includes a broad restriction on both advertising and smoking in indoor public places, compulsory pictorial warning labels, and a menthol cigarette ban. However, tax and pricing policies have been developed slowly and only very recently were stronger measures implemented. This study investigated the expected responses of smokers to hypothetical price increases in Brazil.

Methods

We analyzed smokers’ responses to hypothetical future price increases according to sociodemographic characteristics and smoking conditions in a multistage sample of Brazilian current cigarette smokers aged ≥14 years (n = 500). Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between possible responses and different predictors.

Results

In most subgroups investigated, smokers most frequently said they would react to a hypothetical price increase by taking up alternatives that might have a positive impact on health, i.e., they would “try to stop smoking” (52.3%) or “smoke fewer cigarettes” (46.8%). However, a considerable percentage responded that they would use alternatives that would reduce the effect of price increases, such as the same brand with lower cost (48.1%). After controlling for sex age group (14–19, 20–39, 40–59, and ≥60 years), schooling level (≥9 versus ≤9 years), number of cigarettes per day (>20 versus ≤20), and stage of change for smoking cessation (precontemplation, contemplation, and preparation), lower levels of dependence were positively associated with the response “I would try to stop smoking” (odds ratio [OR], 2.19). Young age was associated with “I would decrease the number of cigarettes” (OR, 3.44). A low schooling level was strongly associated with all responses.

Conclusions

Taxes and prices increases have great potential to stimulate cessation or reduction of cigarette consumption further among two important vulnerable populations of smokers in Brazil: young smokers and those of low educational level. The results from the present study also suggest that seeking illegal products may reduce the impact of increased taxes, but does not eliminate it.

Keywords:
Smoking; Tobacco use; Tobacco control; Prices and taxes