Tobacco industry pricing strategies for single cigarettes and multi-stick packs after excise tax increases in Colombia

Zaineb Sheikh, J Robert Branston, Blanca Llorente, Maldonado Norman, Anna Gilmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Introduction Taxes on tobacco products are an efficient way of reducing consumption. However, they are only effective if passed on to consumers with higher prices. This study aims to examine tobacco industry (TI) pricing strategies in response to tax increases, and whether they differ by price segments or presentation (packs or individual sticks) in Colombia. This is the first such academic study in Latin America and the first anywhere to include the market for single sticks.

Methods Using data on cigarette pricing/taxation from a survey of smokers (2016–2017) and official government data on pricing (2007–2019), the TI’s pricing strategies were examined, split by brand, price segments, different sized packs and single cigarettes.

Results The TI employed targeted pricing strategies in Colombia: differentially shifting taxes; and launching new brands/brand variants. The industry overshifted taxes when increases were smaller and predictable, but used undershifting more when there was a larger increase in 2017, after which it mostly overshifted on budget and premium (but undershifted mid-priced) brands. The prices for single sticks increased more than the tax increase in 2017 when their consumption also increased.

Conclusion The pricing strategies identified suggest excise taxes can be increased further, particularly the specific component, to reduce the price gap between brand segments. Brands should be restricted to a single variant along with prohibitions on launching new brands/brand variants. Lastly, since the pricing of single sticks does not match the pattern of packs, more monitoring of their sales and distribution is required, especially since they promote consumption and hinder effective implementation of tobacco tax policies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number057333
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalTobacco Control
Issue number1
Early online date31 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2023


  • economics
  • low/middle income country
  • price
  • taxation
  • tobacco industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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