Is a Price Increase Policy Enough for Adolescent Smokers?: Factors Affecting the Effectiveness of Increasing Cigarette Prices Among Korean Adolescent Smokers

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Abstract

Background:

Cigarette pricing policy is one tool for controlling smoking behavior on a national scale. It is unclear, however, what effects such policy has on adolescents and which characteristic subgroups of adolescents are more or less sensitive to cigarette pricing policy.

Materials and Methods:

Our data came from the 2013 Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey. The dependent variable was whether or not a participant was classified as a “persistent smokers,” defined as a smoker who would continue smoking despite any price increase. Other variables of interest were smoking days (quantity), previous attempts to stop smoking, and previous education on smoking cessation. The statistical analysis was performed using weighted data and the SURVEYFREQ and SURVEYLOGISTIC procedures in SAS 9.3.

Results:

Among 7094 adolescent smokers (5349 males and 1745 females), 19.9% of males and 25.1% of females reported as persistent smokers. Compared with light smokers, heavy smokers are more likely to be persistent smokers (male: odds ratio [OR] = 2.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.04–2.95, P value < .001; female: OR = 3.23, 95% CI = 2.44–4.27, P value < .001). When we stratified the data by household income, previous attempts to stop smoking, and previous education on smoking cessation, that trend remained statistically significant.

Conclusions:

Because heavier smokers with higher risk of health-related consequences were less sensitive to pricing policy than mild smokers, pricing policy alone is not enough to reduce the societal burden caused by smoking. We suggest that additional cessation policy is needed along with pricing policy for adolescents with heavier smoking behavior in Korea.

Implication:

This study shows that heavy smokers are more likely to be persistent smokers despite the cigarette price increase policy, compared with light smokers in Korean adolescents. Because heavier smokers were less sensitive to pricing policy than mild smokers, pricing policy alone is not enough to reduce the societal burden caused by smoking. We suggest that additional tobacco control policies should be evaluated and effective ones implemented in addition to cigarette prices to reduce smoking among regular adolescent smokers.

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