A newly published study conducted focus groups with low-income smokers in order to understand the tobacco acquisition practices of low-income smokers in New York State in light of high cigarette prices due to high cigarette taxes. The qualitative data analysis revealed that some smokers switched to untaxed cigarettes from Native American reservations, whereas low-income smokers in NYC described convenient sources of bootlegged cigarettes (packs or loosies) in their local neighborhood stores, through acquaintances, or on the street. Familiarity with the retailer was key to accessing bootlegged cigarettes from retailers. The researchers concluded that access to cheaper cigarettes discouraged quit attempts and allowed continued smoking. The availability of lower priced cigarettes may attenuate public health efforts aimed at reducing smoking prevalence through price and tax increases.
Source: Curry et al. (2018). How Low-Income Smokers in New York Access Cheaper Cigarettes. American Journal of Health Promotion, Oct 9:890117118805060. doi: 10.1177/0890117118805060. [Epub ahead of print]