The Economics and Marketing of Tobacco: An Overview of the Existing Published Evidence

01/10/2002

The Economics and Marketing of Tobacco: An Overview of the Existing Published Evidence

By Dr Richard Layte, Dr Helen Russell and Dr Selina McCoy

Smoking is the largest cause of serious illness and premature death in Ireland accounting for approximately 7,000 deaths annually. Irish people spent €1.9 billion on tobacco in 2000 – more than on petrol, electricity, coal, peat and oil combined. The Office of Tobacco Control commissioned the ESRI to investigate what was known about the economics and marketing of tobacco in Ireland and this report summarises the findings.

  • There has been very little research on the economics and marketing of tobacco in Ireland compared to other countries.
  • Although almost all smokers begin smoking as adolescents, there has been no research into the impact of tobacco advertising and marketing.
  • The effectiveness of the national anti-smoking campaigns has not been scientifically evaluated.
  • Increasing the price of cigarettes decreases both the number of smokers and the amount they smoke. A 10% increase in prices will decrease the amount of tobacco smoked by 4%. This points to price as a key policy lever.
  • Price increases are particularly effective in stopping children and adolescents from smoking.
  • People on low incomes are 50% more likely to smoke than those from the top income bracket and there is a predictable, inverse relationship between a person’s income and their probability of smoking.
  • More research is needed to understand why those on lower incomes in Ireland are more likely to smoke. This will give important information for health policy.
  • Internationally, research shows that those on lower incomes are more likely to react to price rises by stopping smoking, or reducing consumption. Unfortunately there has been no research yet in Ireland to confirm this finding. If lower income smokers do not reduce their consumption as cigarette taxes increase, it will mean that the people with the lowest income get taxed the most.

A Press Briefing will be held at the ESRI on Tuesday, 1 October, 2002 at 11.00 am.

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