Objective: To explore what is known about the tobacco industry's (TI) price-based responses to tobacco excise tax policies and whether these vary by country income group using a systematic review. Data sources: Studies assessing TI pricing tactics were identified via searches of five online databases using a combination of search keywords. Study selection: Inclusion criteria were applied by two reviewers independently who screened all search results (titles and abstracts) for possible inclusion. They identified 37 publications that reported TI pricing tactics. Data extraction: Study details were tabulated, and information was extracted on the country income group, population characteristics, excise tax structure, and pricing strategies. Data synthesis: Of the 37 publications identified, 22 were conducted in high-income countries, while 15 covered low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Major pricing strategies employed were: differentially shifting taxes between products (35 studies); launching new brands/products as pathways for downtrading (six studies), product promotions and different prices for the same products for different customers (six studies); price smoothing (two studies); and changing product attributes such as length/size of cigarettes or production processes (three studies). Conclusions: While there is limited evidence to fully ascertain industry responses to tax increases, this review suggests that the TI widely uses a multitude of sophisticated pricing strategies across different settings around the world with the intention of undermining tax policies, thereby increasing tobacco consumption and maximising their profits. There is a need for further research in this area especially in LMICs so that effective policy responses can be developed.
|Early online date||9 Aug 2021|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 9 Aug 2021|
- tobacco industry
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health