Smoking patterns in Great Britain: the rise of cheap cigarette brands and roll your own (RYO) tobacco

Anna B. Gilmore, Behrooz Tavakoly, Rosemary Hiscock, Gordon Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (SciVal)


In Britain, the tobacco industry segments cigarettes into four price categories—premium, mid-price, economy and ultra-low-price (ULP). Our previous work shows that tobacco companies have kept ULP prices stable in real terms. Roll your own (RYO) tobacco remains cheaper still.

Analysis of 2001–08 General Household Survey data to examine trends in use of these cheap products and, using logistic regression, the profile of users of these products.

Among smokers, the proportion using cheap products (economy, ULP and RYO combined) increased significantly in almost all age groups and geographic areas. Increases were most marked in under 24 year olds, 76% of whom smoked cheap cigarettes by 2008. All cheap products were more commonly used in lower socio-economic groups. Men and younger smokers were more likely to smoke RYO while women smoked economy brands. Smokers outside London and the South East of England were more likely to smoke some form of cheap tobacco even once socio-economic differences were accounted for.

This paper demonstrates that cheap tobacco use is increasing among young and disadvantaged smokers compromising declines in population smoking prevalence. Thus, tobacco industry pricing appears to play a key role in explaining smoking patterns and inequalities in smoking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-88
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number1
Early online date11 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • tobacco pricing
  • cheap cigarettes
  • RYO
  • Great Britain
  • Inequalities


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