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Tobacco pricing & packaging in middle-income countries

Examining the impact of tobacco pricing and packaging strategies on tobacco use and equity in middle-income countries

REEP researchers: Corné van Walbeek, Hana Ross, Nicole Vellios, Zachary Gitonga, Grieve Chelwa, Alfred Mukong, Abel Nyagwachi

Project partners: McMaster University, Universidad del Rosaario, Healthbridge Vietnam, Universidad Adolfo Ibanez, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, Banco Central del Ecuador

Consortium: Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases

SA team funded by: IDRC and SA MRC 

Study location: South Africa, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Vietnam

Duration: 5 years (2018 – 2022)


We are studying the impact of tobacco prices on smoking onset, smoking cessation, and tobacco consumption in South Africa, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Vietnam. The effects of both tax and retail price are being analysed according to their effect by socioeconomic status, sex, and age. We are investigating the impact of plain cigarette packaging on cigarette demand using a Discrete Choice Experiment in each country. The tobacco industry claims that tobacco taxes harm vulnerable populations and lead to increased use of illicit cigarettes and that packaging policies are ineffective. Evidence from this research grant will address these claims with the aim of influencing tax policy and tobacco product labelling practices in middle-income countries with the goal of ultimately preventing ill health and deaths caused by tobacco use.


Publications by SA team

Boachie, M, Ross, H. 2020. Determinants of smoking intensity in South Africa: Evidence from Township Communities. Preventive Medicine Reports. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101099.

Boachie, M, Rossouw, L, Ross, H. 2020. The economic cost of smoking in South Africa. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntaa162.

Chelwa, G, Koch, S. 2019. The effect of tobacco expenditure on expenditure shares in South African households: A genetic matching approach. PloSOne. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222000

Fuchs, A, Del Carmen G, Mukong, A. 2018. Long-run impacts of increasing tobacco taxes: evidence from South Africa. World Bank. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/705011519972901407/Long-run-impacts-of-increasing-tobacco-taxes-evidence-from-South-Africa.

Linegar, D, Van Walbeek, C. 2018. The effect of excise tax increases on cigarette prices in South Africa. Tobacco Control. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053340.

Mukong, A, Tingum, E. 2019. The demand for cigarettes: New evidence from South Africa. Development Southern Africa. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1080/0376835X.2019.1640108.

Tingum, E, Mukong, A, Mdege N. 2020. The effects of price and non-price policies on cigarette consumption in South Africa. Tobacco Induced Diseases. https://doi.org/10.18332/tid/123424.

Van der Zee, K, Vellios, N, Van Walbeek, C, Ross H. 2020. The illicit cigarette market in six South African townships. Tobacco Control. https://doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2019-055136.

Vellios, N, Van der Zee, K. 2020. Dataset on cigarette smokers in six South African townships. Data in Brief.

Publications by global team

Gallego, J, Llorente, B, Maldonado, N, Otalvaro-Ramirez, S, Rodriguez-Lesmes, P. 2020. Tobacco taxes and illicit cigarette trade in Colombia. Economics and Human Biology. Volume 39, December 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ehb.2020.100902.

Gallego, J, Otalvaro, S, Rodriguez, P. 2019. Price smoking participation elasticity in Colombia: estimates by age and socioeconomic level. Tobacco Control. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2019-055186.

Guindon, E, Paraje, G, Chaloupka, F. 2019. Association of Tobacco Control Policies With Youth Smoking Onset in Chile. JAMA Pediatrics. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1500.

Paraje, G, Araya D. 2018. The relationship between smoking and health and education spending in Chile. Tobacco Control. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2017-053857.

Paraje, G, Araya, D, Drope, J. 2019. The association between flavor capsule cigarette use and sociodemographic variables: Evidence from Chile. PlosOne. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224217.