Targeting the affordability of cigarettes: A new benchmark for taxation policy in low-income and-middle-income countries

International Tobacco Control Research Program, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.
Tobacco control (Impact Factor: 5.93). 08/2010; 19(4):325-30. DOI: 10.1136/tc.2009.030155
Source: PubMed


To investigate the appropriateness of tax incidence (the percentage of the retail price occupied by taxes) benchmarking in low-income and-middle-income countries (LMICs) with rapidly growing economies and to explore the viability of an alternative tax policy rule based on the affordability of cigarettes.
The paper outlines criticisms of tax incidence benchmarking, particularly in the context of LMICs. It then considers an affordability-based benchmark using relative income price (RIP) as a measure of affordability. The RIP measures the percentage of annual per capita GDP required to purchase 100 packs of cigarettes. Using South Africa as a case study of an LMIC, future consumption is simulated using both tax incidence benchmarks and affordability benchmarks.
I show that a tax incidence benchmark is not an optimal policy tool in South Africa and that an affordability benchmark could be a more effective means of reducing tobacco consumption in the future.
Although a tax incidence benchmark was successful in increasing prices and reducing tobacco consumption in South Africa in the past, this approach has drawbacks, particularly in the context of a rapidly growing LMIC economy. An affordability benchmark represents an appropriate alternative that would be more effective in reducing future cigarette consumption.

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Available from: Evan Harold Blecher, May 18, 2015
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    • "Several studies over the past decade have developed the concept of cigarette affordability as a function of cigarette price and individuals' income level (Blecher, Ross, & Leon, 2012; Blecher & van Walbeek, 2004, 2009; Bogdanovica, Murray, McNeill, & Britton, 2012; Guindon, Tobin, & Yach, 2002; Kan, 2007) In a more recent series of studies, Blecher et al. (2012) have shown the relevance of cigarette affordability in low-and middle-income countries whose economies have experienced rapid economic growth (Blecher, 2010; Blecher & van Walbeek, 2009). However, no previous study has examined cigarette affordability in the United States despite substantial state variation in cigarette prices and incomes as well as their trends over time (Bernstein, McNichol, & Nicholas, 2008; Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2011b). "
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