Increasing the price of tobacco by 5% reduces consumption by 3.5%

May 29, 2017, Medical University of Vienna
Increasing the price of tobacco by 5% reduces consumption by 3.5%. Credit: Medical University of Vienna

In a 30-year-old study conducted by social medicine expert Michael Kunze into pricing policy and tobacco consumption, it was found that increasing prices by only 1 percent reduces consumption by 0.5 percent. Under the guidance of the MedUni Vienna smoking expert, diploma student Richard Felsinger has completed an analysis of pricing policy for the years 1997 to 2015. The results have now been published to mark World No Smoking Day on 31 May. Today a 1 percent increase in the price of tobacco reduces consumption by as much as 0.69 percent.

That means: if you increase the price by 5 percent, consumption drops by 3.5 percent. And this is the level of regular price increase that Kunze considers to be realistic. "A level that is acceptable to all parties: to us doctors, because a lot of people would give up , but also to tobacconists and the Finance Ministry, because revenues and taxes would still yield a reasonable surplus."

And at the same time, says Kunze, the margin is so slight that it would not encourage the illegal trade in cigarettes. "That would happen – as the Finance Minister repeatedly puts forward as a threatening scenario – if we were to suddenly raise cigarette prices by a drastic amount," explains Kunze. It would also be helpful if the policy could be coordinated with Austria's neighbours, so that are increased simultaneously by the same amount in each country.

"Our findings from 1986 have now been impressively confirmed by this dissertation," Kunze is delighted to report. "At MedUni Vienna we were among the first to suggest solving this problem via a pricing strategy and to provide scientific evidence to back this up."

Smoking cessation has positive effects after only a few days

The possible negative consequences of long-term are clearly evidenced: Tobacco is the single biggest cause of illness and premature death in Europe: around 90 percent of deaths from lung cancer are caused by smoking and the same applies to 75 percent of deaths from chronic bronchitis and other respiratory diseases. Moreover, cigarette smoking is implicated in the development of pancreatic, kidney and cervical cancer.

It has also been shown that positive effects can occur very soon after quitting: "Even just a few days after the last cigarette, your risk of cardiovascular disease falls rapidly. Smoking is almost the same as so, if you stop, you stop poisoning yourself," says Kunze. However, the cancer risk remains elevated for many years afterwards.

Explore further: Higher tobacco prices are an effective preventative measure

Related Stories

Higher tobacco prices are an effective preventative measure

May 28, 2015
Thirty percent of the estimated 2.3 million smokers in Austria are considered to be heavily tobacco-dependent and, according to experts at MedUni Vienna, require professional treatment. This would mean around 690,000 people. ...

Tobacco linked to 40 percent of US cancers

November 10, 2016
Tobacco use remains the most preventable cause of cancer, and 40 percent of diagnosed US cancer cases may have a link to its use, health authorities said Thursday.

Smoking to kill 200 million in China this century: WHO

April 14, 2017
Smoking-related diseases will claim 200 million lives in China this century and plunge tens of millions into poverty, a report said Friday.

Young people do not associate e-cigarettes with increased likelihood of smoking

March 8, 2017
New peer-reviewed research published today in Drugs Education Prevention and Policy shows that e-cigarettes are not increasing the likelihood of tobacco consumption and may in fact be contributing to negative perceptions ...

Effective protection for non-smokers could prevent 30% of all cancer deaths

May 24, 2016
Every year, lung cancer causes around 1.6 million deaths worldwide. 70% of all lung cancer patients throughout the world are smokers or ex-smokers and, in Central Europe, this figure is higher than 80%. Smoking is therefore ...

What proportion of cancer deaths are attributable to smoking around the US?

October 24, 2016
The proportion of cancer deaths attributable to cigarette smoking varied across the United States but was highest in the South, where nearly 40 percent of cancer deaths in men were estimated to be connected to smoking in ...

Recommended for you

Lowering hospitals' Medicare costs proves difficult

July 18, 2018
A payment system that provides financial incentives for hospitals that reduce health-care costs for Medicare patients did not lower costs as intended, according to a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine ...

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

Sugar improves memory in over-60s, helping them work smarter

July 18, 2018
Sugar improves memory in older adults – and makes them more motivated to perform difficult tasks at full capacity – according to new research by the University of Warwick.

People who tan in gyms tan more often, and more addictively, than others, new research shows

July 18, 2018
Gyms are places people go to get healthier. But nearly half the gyms in the U.S. contain a potentially addictive carcinogen—tanning beds, report UConn researchers in the July 18 issue of JAMA Dermatology.

Omega 3 supplements have little or no heart or vascular health benefit: review

July 17, 2018
New evidence published today shows there is little or no effect of omega 3 supplements on our risk of experiencing heart disease, stroke or death.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.