This study monitored the advertised price of the most prominently promoted and the cheapest single packs of cigarettes in Australian retail outlets before and after the implementation of plain packaging.Methods
A panel of 421 outlets in four large Australian cities was visited monthly from May 2012 to August 2013 and the brand, pack size and price of the most-prominently listed and lowest-priced single cigarette pack were recorded from each store's tobacco price board. Changes in the inflation-adjusted stick price were examined using linear mixed models, controlling for fixed effects of city, store type, area socioeconomic status and random effects of time. The adjusted stick price was also examined over time by tobacco manufacturer and pack size.Results
The inflation-adjusted stick price of the most-prominently advertised single packs was significantly higher than in May–July 2012 from August–October 2012 for mainstream and premium brands and from February–April 2013 for value brands. Adjusted average stick prices of lowest-priced packs in August 2013 were $0.02 (95% CI $0.02 to $0.03, p<0.001) higher than in May–July 2012 ($Aug13). A large real increase in stick price was seen in February–April 2013 across all major manufacturers, market segments and pack size categories.Discussion
The price of cigarettes most prominently promoted on price boards did not decrease in the months following implementation of Australia's plain packaging legislation. Retail prices continued to increase above the level resulting from automatic indexation of excise/customs duty even at the lowest-priced end of the Australian market.