Budget cigarettes linked to higher infant mortality rates in EU countries

September 18, 2017, Imperial College London
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists already know that high cigarette prices reduce smoking rates, and that levels of smoking affect infant mortality. However until now, there have been no studies to explore the link between cigarette price differentials and infant mortality.

Now, for the first time, researchers from Imperial College London have found an association between rates and the differences in costs between higher and lower priced cigarettes. The authors say that eliminating budget cigarettes from the market may help to reduce globally.

Dr Filippos Filippidis, lead author from Imperial's School of Public Health, said: "Thanks to tax and price control measures, cigarettes in EU countries are more expensive than ever before. However, the tobacco industry is good at finding loopholes to ensure that budget cigarettes remain available. In this study, we found that the availability of budget cigarettes is associated with more infant deaths."

The study, published today in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, analysed nearly 54 million births across 23 EU countries from 2004 to 2014. The researchers obtained data on cigarette over this period and examined whether differences between average priced and budget cigarettes was linked to .

During the ten years, overall infant declined in all countries from 4.4 deaths per 1000 births in 2004 to 3.5 deaths per 1000 births in 2014. The cost of average priced cigarettes increased during this time in all countries studied. The average difference between average priced and budget cigarettes varied from 12.8 per cent to 26.0 per cent over the study period.

According to the results, increases in the average price of cigarettes were associated with reductions in infant mortality. A one Euro increase per pack in the average cigarette price was associated with 0.23 fewer deaths per 1,000 live births in the same year, and an additional 0.16 fewer deaths per 1,000 live births in the following year.

However, a ten per cent increase in the price differential between and average priced cigarettes was associated with 0.07 more deaths per 1,000 the following year. This means that 3,195 infant deaths could potentially have been avoided if there had been no price difference between cigarette products over the study period.

Increasing the price of cigarettes reduces smoking in the general population and is particularly effective at encouraging young people and those on low incomes to quit smoking. The authors say the lower infant mortality link with price increases seen in this study is likely due to less exposure to second hand smoke among pregnant women and , especially in the home. It could also be due to fewer pregnant women smoking.

The authors say that although EU governments have made cigarettes more expensive by increasing taxes, tobacco companies have responded with differential pricing strategies, where tax increases are loaded onto premium brands. This causes a price gap between higher and lower priced cigarettes that gives smokers the option to switch to cheaper products, making tax increases less effective.

Professor Christopher Millett, senior author on the study from the School of Public Health, said: "Increasing taxation on tobacco is a highly effective strategy to protect child health. Our findings suggest that tobacco tax policy should be designed to not only increase the average price of cigarettes but also to eliminate the price difference between higher and lower priced cigarettes."

Explore further: Availability of cheap tobacco undermining efforts to cut smoking

More information: JAMA Pediatrics (2017). jamanetwork.com/journals/jamap … pediatrics.2017.2536

Related Stories

Availability of cheap tobacco undermining efforts to cut smoking

July 31, 2017
The effectiveness of price increases as a deterrent to cut smoking is being undermined by the availability of cheap tobacco, including roll-your-own and cartons of factory-made cigarettes, according to new research published ...

Vaping doubles risk of smoking cigarettes for teens

September 18, 2017
Teenagers who try e-cigarettes double their risk for smoking tobacco cigarettes, according to a new study.

Tobacco companies keep people smoking despite UK cigarette tax increases

April 16, 2013
Raising tobacco prices is one of the most effective means of reducing tobacco use, particularly among price-sensitive smokers such as young people and people with low incomes. But when the UK government has been raising cigarette ...

Higher cigarette taxes linked to fewer infant deaths

December 1, 2015
Higher taxes and prices for cigarettes are strongly associated with lower infant mortality rates in the United States, according to a new study from Vanderbilt University and the University of Michigan released Dec. 1 in ...

Cigarettes cheaper than e-cigarettes in 44 of 45 countries studied

March 28, 2016
Combustible tobacco cigarettes cost less to purchase than equivalent amounts of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in 44 of 45 countries sampled around the world, according to a new American Cancer Society study. The study, ...

NYC to raise cigarette prices to highest in the US

April 22, 2017
(HealthDay)—A proposal to boost the base price of a pack of cigarettes from $10.50 to $13.00 would make cigarettes in New York City the most expensive in the country.

Recommended for you

Low-fat or low-carb? It's a draw, study finds

February 20, 2018
New evidence from a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine might dismay those who have chosen sides in the low-fat versus low-carb diet debate.

Tobacco kills, no matter how it's smoked: study

February 20, 2018
(HealthDay)—Smokers who think cigars or pipes are somehow safer than cigarettes may want to think again, new research indicates.

Just a few minutes of light intensity exercise linked to lower death risk in older men

February 19, 2018
Clocking up just a few minutes at a time of any level of physical activity, including of light intensity, is linked to a lower risk of death in older men, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Sports ...

Calcium and Vitamin D supplements are not associated with risk of heart attacks

February 16, 2018
New research from the University of Southampton has found no association between the use of calcium or vitamin D supplementation and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.

Women who clean at home or work face increased lung function decline

February 16, 2018
Women who work as cleaners or regularly use cleaning sprays or other cleaning products at home appear to experience a greater decline in lung function over time than women who do not clean, according to new research published ...

Study shows options to decrease risk of motor vehicle crashes for adolescent drivers

February 16, 2018
Adolescents who receive comprehensive and challenging on-road driving assessments prior to taking the license test might be protected from future motor vehicle crashes, according to a University of Alabama at Birmingham study ...

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.