Cross-border purchasing of cigarettes among smokers in Six Countries of the EUREST-PLUS ITC Europe Surveys
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Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo (UW), Waterloo, Canada
Department of Statistics & Actuarial Science, University of Waterloo (UW), Waterloo, Canada
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, Canada
School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo (UW), Waterloo, Canada
Smoking or Health Hungarian Foundation (SHHF), Budapest, Hungary
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (UoA), Athens, Greece
University of Medicine and Pharmacy ‘Grigore T. Popa’ Iasi, Iasi, Romania
Aer Pur Romania, Bucharest, Romania
Health Promotion Foundation (HPF), Warsaw, Poland
Maria Skłodowska-Curie Institute-Oncology Center (MSCI), Warsaw, Poland
European Observatory of Health Inequalities, President Stanisław Wojciechowski State University of Applied Sciences, Kalisz, Poland
Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), Catalonia, Spain
Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), Catalonia, Spain
School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Cancer Prevention Unit and WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Control, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany
European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP), Brussels, Belgium
University of Crete (UoC), Heraklion, Greece
Pete Driezen   

Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo (UW), 200 University Ave W, N2L 3G1 Waterloo, Canada
Publish date: 2019-03-07
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 2):A13
*EUREST-PLUS consortium members: European Network on Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP), Belgium: Constantine I. Vardavas, Andrea Glahn, Christina N. Kyriakos, Dominick Nguyen, Katerina Nikitara, Cornel Radu-Loghin, Polina Starchenko University of Crete (UoC), Greece: Aristidis Tsatsakis, Charis Girvalaki, Chryssi Igoumenaki, Sophia Papadakis, Aikaterini Papathanasaki, Manolis Tzatzarakis, Alexander I. Vardavas Kantar Public (TNS), Belgium: Nicolas Bécuwe, Lavinia Deaconu, Sophie Goudet, Christopher Hanley, Oscar Rivière Smoking or Health Hungarian Foundation (SHHF), Hungary: Tibor Demjén, Judit Kiss, Piroska A. Kovács Catalan Institut of Oncology (ICO); Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), Spain: Esteve Fernández, Yolanda Castellano, Marcela Fu, Sarah O. Nogueira, Olena Tigova Kings College London (KCL), United Kingdom: Ann McNeill, Katherine East, Sara C. Hitchman Cancer Prevention Unit and WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Control, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Germany: Ute Mons, Sarah Kahnert National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (UoA), Greece: Yannis Tountas, Panagiotis Behrakis, Filippos T. Filippidis, Christina Gratziou, Paraskevi Katsaounou, Theodosia Peleki, Ioanna Petroulia, Chara Tzavara Aer Pur Romania, Romania: Antigona C. Trofor, Marius Eremia, Lucia Lotrean, Florin Mihaltan European Respiratory Society (ERS), Switzerland; Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany: Gernot Rohde, Tamaki Asano, Claudia Cichon, Amy Far, Céline Genton, Melanie Jessner, Linnea Hedman, Christer Janson, Ann Lindberg, Beth Maguire, Sofia Ravara, Valérie Vaccaro, Brian Ward Maastricht University, the Netherlands: Marc Willemsen, Hein de Vries, Karin Hummel, Gera E. Nagelhout Health Promotion Foundation (HPF), Poland: Witold A. Zatoński, Aleksandra Herbeć, Kinga Janik-Koncewicz, Krzysztof Przewoźniak, Mateusz Zatoński University of Waterloo (UW); Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Canada: Geoffrey T. Fong, Thomas K. Agar, Pete Driezen, Shannon Gravely, Anne C. K. Quah, Mary E. Thompson
The availability of lower-cost cigarettes in neighboring countries provides price-sensitive smokers with incentives to purchase cheaper out-of-country cigarettes. This study estimates the prevalence of and factors associated with cross-border purchasing of cheaper cigarettes among smokers from Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Spain. The prevalence of cross-border purchasing was estimated by residential location, defined as living in regions bordering a lower-price country (where prices were at least €1/pack lower), regions bordering a similar- or higher-price country, and internal non-border regions.

Data were from a survey of nationally representative samples of adult smokers (n=6011) from Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Spain. The primary outcome was purchasing cheaper out-of-country cigarettes in the previous six months. Residential location was defined using The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS2 in Germany and NUTS3 in the other countries). Multivariable logistic regression tested differences in purchasing cheaper out-of-country cigarettes by country and residential location.

Residential location was associated with purchasing cheaper out-of-country cigarettes in Germany and Poland (p<0.05): 31% of German and 11% of Polish smokers living in regions bordering lower-price countries reported purchasing cheaper out-of-country cigarettes in the previous six months. Smokers living in regions bordering lower-price countries had 4.21 times greater odds of purchasing cheaper out-of-country cigarettes compared to smokers living in non-border regions.

Overall, only a minority of smokers in the six countries purchased cheaper cigarettes outside their country. However, smokers living in regions bordering countries where cigarettes were at least €1/pack lower than their home country had significantly higher odds of purchasing cheaper out-of-country cigarettes. This effect was especially prominent among German smokers. Tax harmonization policies designed to minimize crossborder price differentials can eliminate lower-priced alternatives for price-sensitive smokers.

The authors declare that they have no competing interests, financial or otherwise, related to the current work. K Przewoźniak reports grants and personal fees from the Polish League Against Cancer, outside the submitted work. CI Vardavas reports that he is the Strategic Development Editor of TID and that there are no conflicts of interest with this current work. The rest of the authors have also completed and submitted an ICMJE form for disclosure of potential conflicts of interest.
The EUREST-PLUS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 681109 (CIV) and the University of Waterloo (GTF). Additional support was provided to the University of Waterloo by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (FDN-148477). GTF was supported by a Senior Investigator Grant from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. EF is supported by the Ministry of Universities and Research, Government of Catalonia (2017SGR319). EF was supported by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Government of Spain (INT16/00211 and INT17/00103), co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER).
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