Changes in use of types of tobacco products by pack sizes and price segments, prices paid and consumption following the introduction of plain packaging in Australia

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Abstract

Objectives

To describe changes among smokers in use of various types of tobacco products, reported prices paid and cigarette consumption following the standardisation of tobacco packaging in Australia.

Methods

National cross-sectional telephone surveys of adult smokers were conducted from April 2012 (6 months before transition to plain packaging (PP)) to March 2014 (15 months afterwards). Multivariable logistic regression assessed changes in products, brands and pack types/sizes; multivariable linear regression examined changes in inflation-adjusted prices paid and reported cigarette consumption between the pre-PP and three subsequent periods—the transition phase, PP year 1 and PP post-tax (post a 12.5% tax increase in December 2013).

Results

The proportion of current smokers using roll-your-own (RYO) products fluctuated over the study period. Proportions using value brands of factory-made (FM) cigarettes increased from pre-PP (21.4%) to PP year 1 (25.5%; p=0.002) and PP post-tax (27.8%; p<0.001). Inflation-adjusted prices paid increased in the PP year 1 and PP post-tax phases; the largest increases were among premium FM brands, the smallest among value brands. Consumption did not change in PP year 1 among daily, regular or current smokers or among smokers of brands in any market segment. Consumption among regular smokers declined significantly in PP post-tax (mean=14.0, SE=0.33) compared to PP year 1 (mean=14.8, SE=0.17; p=0.037).

Conclusions

Introduction of PP was associated with an increase in use of value brands, likely due to increased numbers available and smaller increases in prices for value relative to premium brands. Reported consumption declined following the December 2013 tax increase.

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