Does price impact on young people smoking?


Smoking is a significant contributor to preventable illness and premature death. It has also been shown to be a major contributor to social inequalities in health. Deterring non-smokers starting to smoke and encouraging young smokers to quit is a serious public health issue that has long term consequences in terms of future health gains and associated costs to the NHS and the wider economy. Many different interventions have been proposed, developed, evaluated and implemented to deter smoking among young people. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the impact of price on cigarette smoking in people aged 25 years or under.


The existing evidence, albeit methodologically limited, suggests that price is an effective instrument in modifying the smoking behaviour of young people, though the size of effect is less clear. Increases in price appear to reduce smoking participation and prevalence, as well as the level of smoking. Increased price also appears to lead to reductions in smoking initiation and increases in quit rates. Price should be viewed as a legitimate instrument to be used alongside other policies aimed at reducing cigarette consumption among young people.

Conducted by: Christine Godfrey1, Nigel Rice2, Russell Slack3, Amanda Sowden3, Gillian Worthy1

1.Department of Health Sciences, University of York; 2. Centre for Health Economics; 3. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination


Godfrey C, Rice N, Slack R, Sowden A, Worthy G. A systematic review of the effects of price on the smoking behaviour of young people. PHRC Project Outputs 2009; Executive Summary, Short Report and Final Report


Commissioned by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme, via The Public Health Research Consortium