This research project explored the impact of tobacco pricing and packaging strategies on smoking onset, smoking cessation, tobacco consumption, and equity in five middle-income countries: Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, South Africa, and Vietnam. Overwhelming international evidence shows that higher cigarette prices and packaging regulation reduce tobacco use, with greater reductions among young people and those from more socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. However, while internationally recommended approaches to tobacco control have been implemented worldwide, the application and impact of these approaches is actually unique in every country. Each offers its own specific combination of cigarette taxation, packaging regulation, and consumption trends. The comparative approach of this project maximized the global generalizability of its findings, given the diversity of contexts and experiences that the five countries offer.
The project linked national survey data from a large number of existing datasets to price data obtained from national statistical agencies, private research firms, and where available, self-reported prices and unit values (i.e. ratio of household expenditure on particular tobacco product to the quantity consumed). Using this data, the project examined the impact, influence, and effects of:
- tobacco prices on smoking onset, smoking cessation, and household-level expenditures on tobacco products, tobacco use participation, and tobacco consumption
- socioeconomic status, sex, and age on the relationship between tobacco prices and tobacco use
- taxes on the retail price of tobacco products
- cigarette packaging, including plain packaging, on various sub-populations
- changes in tobacco pricing and taxation policies on tax revenue, use, and health
The project also explored the socioeconomic inequalities in smoking and the contribution of smoking to socioeconomic-related inequalities in health, as well as the impacts of recent country-specific changes in taxation and packaging policies and industry behaviour.
HealthBridge Vietnam led the research in Vietnam.
The research findings from this study have generated knowledge and enhanced evidence on the impacts of tobacco tax, pricing and packaging strategies in Vietnam.
Some key lessons learned include:
- Involving government agencies responsible for policy development early in the process of developing and implementing the study will improve government commitment to the policy issues.
- Involving experts from other institutes throughout the country and globally will not only enhance the quality of the research but also strengthen the network of tobacco control research and advocacy.
Other key impacts and outcomes include:
- Collaboration: Research findings were strengthened by HealthBridge’s close collaboration with the Tax Policy Department – Ministry of Finance (TPD-MOF) as well as other national and international organizations and experts throughout this project.
- Knowledge dissemination: The project’s findings were published in international journals, presented in technical meetings and workshops, which made the findings widely available to government officials, members of civil society, and international organizations. In addition, factsheets and policy briefs were disseminated to government officials and the media.
- Policy development: Evidence generated from this study was referenced by the TPD-MOF as they proposed tobacco excise tax options in the revised Excise Tax Law in 2019. We will continue to provide such evidence to the TPD-MOF. Additionally, results from this project will be used to advocate for advancing tobacco packaging policy, as the Vietnam Ministry of Health is revising Decree 77/2013/ND-CP which includes provisions on tobacco packaging.
- Capacity building: the skills and expertise of the research teams was improved through collaboration and knowledge exchange between diverse country teams. Additionally, the network of research and advocacy was expanded which strengthened partnerships with government agencies and other research organizations.