Cigarette Taxes and Smoking

Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.

Policy Brief

Cigarette Tax Not a Magic Bullet to Combat Smoking

A new study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reveals that cigarette taxes have not motivated middle-aged Canadian smokers to cut down on smoking. 

Researchers Sunday Azagba and Mesbah Sharaf from Concordia University examined the impact of cigarette taxes on smoking participation in Canada. They discovered that, on the whole, a 10% increase in cigarette taxes reduced smoking participation by 2.3%. However, they also found that certain groups of smokers are much less responsive to taxes than others.

Results show that smokers aged 25-44 generally do not decrease smoking habits with increasing cigarette prices. On the other hand, those aged 45-60 are much more likely than younger smokers to cut down on cigarettes because of rising costs.  

The study also showed that males are more likely than females to cut their cigarette consumption due to taxes, a finding that is in line with many previous studies.

In addition, Azagba and Sharaf found that those with low incomes and those who have not completed any post-secondary education are more responsive to cigarette taxes than those with high incomes and higher education. This finding raises a debate about the distributional impact of cigarette taxes.

Cigarette taxes in Canada have been steadily increasing since 2001 and remain a popular anti-smoking measure with policy makers. They have been generally effective, reducing the average smoking prevalence rate across the country. However, this study shows supplementary measures are necessary to further discourage and reduce smoking among certain populations.

“Cigarette tax is not a magic bullet for combating smoking. A multifaceted tobacco control package will be needed, as there is no ‘one-size fits all’ anti-smoking policy”, says Sharaf.

The study used data from the Statistics Canada National Population Health Survey and from provincial tax offices. A summary of the research can be found at

For more information, contact Mesbah Sharaf at

For more information: