Possible consequences of relatively decreasing cigarette price in China from 1999 to 2015
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Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, China
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A460
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Cigarette price is an important factor affecting smokers' behavior. While raising price is considered to be a most cost-effective approach to confront the tobacco epidemic, a pricing stratagem could also be used as a weapon to interfere tobacco control efforts by the tobacco industry. The study examined the change of cigarette price from 1999 to 2015 in China, where inhabits a smoking population of more than 300 million, to explore its possible effects on population smoking behavior.

National Consumption Price Index (CPI), Tobacco Product Consumption Price Index (TCPI), tobacco consumption data were collected from China Statistical Yearbooks and China Tobacco Yearbooks. Tobacco use and cost data were acquired from two national tobacco surveys in 2010 and 2015.

The TCPI in China increased 5.6% from 1999 to 2015, while at the same time the national CPI increased 42.3%, which meant the price for cigarettes relatively decreased 25.8% comparing to other commodities. Meanwhile, the annual number of cigarettes sold in China increased from 1.45 trillion to 2.49 trillion, raising 71.7% since 1999. Though the price of cigarettes changed little, the average cost per pack of cigarettes bought by smokers increased 42.9% (from RMB ¥7.0 to ¥10.0) in urban area and 59.2% (from RMB ¥4.9 to ¥7.8) in rural area from 2010 to 2015, which was a result of shift to more expensive cigarette brands, regarding to the dramatic increase in the average resident income (climbing 93.0% in rural, and 63.2% in urban during 2010-2015 in China).

The cigarette price in China barely changed during a sixteen year period from 1999 to 2015, made cigarettes more and more affordable in China. Combining with the increase in income, it contributed to the huge increase in tobacco consumption and brand shift by smokers in China.