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Am J Public Health. 2007 Aug;97(8):1483-8. Epub 2007 Jun 28.

The $5 man: the underground economic response to a large cigarette tax increase in New York City.

Author information

1
Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY 10 032, USA. drs26@columbia.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We examined the mechanisms by which living in a disadvantaged minority community influences smoking and illegal cigarette sale and purchasing behaviors after a large cigarette tax increase.

METHODS:

Data were collected from 14 focus groups (n=104) that were conducted during the spring of 2003 among Blacks aged 18 years and older living in New York City.

RESULTS:

A large tax increase led to what focus group participants described as a pervasive illegal cigarette market in a low-income minority community. Perceived pro-smoking community norms, a stressful social and economic environment, and the availability of illegal cigarettes worked together to reinforce smoking and undermine cessation.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although interest in quitting was high, bootleggers created an environment in which reduced-price cigarettes were easier to access than cessation services. This activity continues to undermine the public health goals of the tax increase.

PMID:
17600270
PMCID:
PMC1931477
DOI:
10.2105/AJPH.2005.079921
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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