Increased taxation is one of the most effective tobacco control measures. Price differentials across tobacco product types may undermine the effectiveness of taxation policies by providing the option to switch to cheaper products rather than to quit. The aim of this study was to use commercial data to compare prices and price differentials of both cigarette and non-cigarette products across countries from all geographical regions.

We analyzed 6920 price data points (i.e. product brands) from Euromonitor Passport 2016 for 12 types of tobacco products across 79 countries from the six WHO regions: Africa (n=5), Eastern Mediterranean (n=6), Europe (n=39), the Americas (n=15), South-East Asia (n=3), and Western Pacific (n=12). For each product and country, a price differential was computed as the percentage of minimum price to the median.

Median cigarette prices (US$) were highest in Western Pacific countries (4.00; range: 0.80–16.20) and European countries (3.80; range: 0.80–14.00), but lowest in African countries (2.00; range: 0.80–2.20). The medians of cigarette price differentials were largest in the Eastern Mediterranean (48.33%) and African regions (50.00%), but smallest in Europe (82.35%). Pipe tobacco and fine-cut tobacco were generally less expensive than cigarettes while cigars were the most expensive. However, there were wide variations in prices and price differentials across regions and tobacco products.

We found substantial variations in prices and price differentials between countries and world regions across tobacco products, likely reflecting differences in taxation policies and structures. Findings identify types of tobacco products in specific geographical regions where price differentials are highest, thereby highlighting areas where taxation policies need improvement, for example through implementing specific excise taxes.

The authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none was reported.
There was no source of funding for this research.
Ethical approval and informed consent were not required for this study given that the dataset consisted of aggregate anonymized data and did not involve human subjects.
Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created.
Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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