Determinants of smoking intensity in South Africa: Evidence from township communities

8 Jun 2020 - 11:45

Micheal Boachie and Hana Ross recently published a paper in Preventive Medicine Reports, on the determinants of smoking intensity (i.e. the number of cigarettes smoked per day, on average) in six South African townships. They used pooled data from two cross-sectional surveys conducted in 2017 and 2018 to investigate the price and non-price determinants of conditional cigarette demand among respondents who reported daily smoking in six South African townships (Eldorado Park and Ivory Park, Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain, Thabong, and Umlazi). Even though the primary determinant of dying from a smoking-related disease is the length of time that people smoke cigarettes, the study is important because consuming fewer cigarettes per day increases the likelihood of quitting.

Micheal and Hana found that smokers in townships reduce the number of cigarettes smoked daily by an average of about 3% when cigarette prices increase by 10%. Young smokers are more sensitive to price increases since they reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by about 5% in response to the same price increase. Smokers’ responsiveness to changes in the cigarette price also differs by gender and race: females and Coloureds are less sensitive to changes in cigarette prices in terms of the number of cigarettes consumed in a day. The study also suggests that even though smoking intensity is lower among people who purchase single sticks, allowing single-stick sales can undermine youth smoking prevention.

A key conclusion of this study is that a policy of higher tobacco excise taxes should be accompanied by other tobacco control interventions that are targeted at smokers who are less responsive to price-related measures.

Read the article in full here: