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Eur J Cancer Prev. 2007 Aug;16(4):380-4.

Increasing the price of tobacco: economically regressive today and probably ineffective tomorrow.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


The tobacco price increase during the fourth stage of the smoking epidemic has coincided with a decrease in smoking prevalence, less marked in the lower socio-economic groups. In countries that are at the third stage of the epidemic, smoking prevalence in poor and less educated women has not changed or has increased at the same time as tobacco prices have increased. It is assumed, however, that people with low incomes and those with less education in developed countries are more responsive to price changes. The inconsistent results with regard to the price elasticity of tobacco in different socio-economic groups and the conflicting trends in smoking prevalence between socio-economic groups during periods of increased tobacco prices do not support that consensus. Evidence suggests that increasing tobacco taxation is a regressive measure today and will probably achieve only a moderate reduction in tobacco use in the future, as smoking is becoming a phenomenon associated with poorer and less-educated people.

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