Effect of relative income price on smoking initiation among adolescents in Ghana: evidence from pseudo-longitudinal data

Micheal Kofi Boachie, Mutsapha Immurana, Ernest Ngeh Tingum, Noreen Dadirai Mdege, Hana Ross

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Objective: Many smokers initiate smoking during adolescence. Making tobacco products less affordable is one of the best ways to control tobacco use. Studies on the effect of relative income price (RIP (i.e., affordability)) of cigarettes on smoking initiation are scarce in low and middle-income countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where data are limited. The goal of this study is to examine the effect of cigarette RIP on adolescent smoking initiation in Ghana.

Setting: The study uses a pseudo-longitudinal dataset constructed from the Global Youth Tobacco Surveys (GYTS (2000-2009 and 2017)) and RIP for the most sold cigarette brand in Ghana.

Participants: The GYTS is a national survey on adolescents.

Primary and secondary outcome: Effect of RIP on adolescent smoking initiation in Ghana.

Results: Using the GYTS 2000-2009 data, we find that the probability of smoking initiation falls significantly in response to a higher RIP, with an elasticity of -0.372 (95% CI: -0.701 to -0.042) for the unmatched sample and -0.490 (95% CI: -0.818 to -0.161) for the matched sample. The RIP elasticity for females [(-0.888) (95% CI: -1.384 to -0.392) and (-0.928) (95% CI: -1.434 to -0.422)] is statistically significant at 1% in both the unmatched and the matched samples, respectively, while the RIP elasticity for males is statistically insignificant in the 2000 - 2009 surveys. Analysis of the 2017 GYTS shows a similar outcome: a negative relationship between RIP and smoking initiation, and the results are statistically significant for both male and female, and for both matched and unmatched samples.

Conclusion: The affordability (RIP) of cigarettes is negatively related to the probability of smoking initiation among adolescents in Ghana. Raising tobacco taxes in line with income growth would make cigarettes less affordable and dissuade adolescents from initiating smoking.

Keywords: prices; taxes; smoking initiation; adolescents; relative income price
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere054367
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2022

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