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February 5th, 2014:

Cigarette price level and variation in five Southeast Asian countries



To monitor and analyse impacts of the interaction between tobacco excise tax policy and industry price strategy, on the price level and variation of cigarettes sold in five Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Cambodia, Lao PDR, the Philippines and Vietnam).


Prices of cigarette sold by sticks and packs were collected through an in-person survey of retailers during 2011. Mean cigarette prices and price variation were calculated in each study country for single cigarettes, whole packs and brand groups.


Price variation of whole packs was greater in countries with ad-valorem excise tax structures (Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam) than in countries with multitiered specific excise taxes (Indonesia and the Philippines). The price variation for single sticks appeared to be driven by local currency denomination. Cigarettes sold individually cost more per stick than cigarettes sold in whole packs in every brand group except for Indonesia’s domestic brands.


Tobacco industry strategy and excise tax structure drove the price level and variation of cigarettes sold in packs, while currency denominations influence the selling price of single sticks. To maximise the effectiveness of tobacco tax policies, countries should adopt specific excise tax structures to decrease cigarette price variation, which would minimise opportunities for smokers to ‘trade down’ to a cheaper brand to avoid a tax-driven price increase.

Complexities at the intersection of tobacco control and trade liberalisation: evidence from Southeast Asia

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