2013 Volume 60 Issue 9 Pages 613-618
Objectives Since the special tobacco tax was established in 1998, the tobacco tax and price of tobacco have increased thrice, in 2003, 2006, and 2010, respectively. We evaluated the effect of increases in tax on the consumption and sales of tobacco in Japan using the annual data on the number of tobacco products sold and the total sales from Japan Tobacco, Inc.
Methods We applied the number of tobacco products sold and the total sales per year to a joinpoint regression model to examine the trends in the data. This model could help identify the year in which a decrease or increase was apparent from the data. In addition, we examined the effect of each tax increase while also considering other factors that may have caused a decrease in the levels of tobacco consumption using the method proposed by Hirano et al.
Results According to the joinpoint regression analysis, the number of tobacco products sold started decreasing in 1998, and the trends of decrease accelerated to 5% per year, from 2005. Owing to the tax increase, tobacco sales reduced by −2.4%, −2.9%, and −10.1% (corrected for the effect of the Tohoku Great Earthquake), and price elasticity was estimated as −0.30, −0.27, and −0.28 (corrected) in 2003, 2006, and 2010, respectively. The effect of tobacco tax increase on the decrease in tobacco sales was greatest in 2010, while the price elasticity remained almost the same as it was during the previous tax increase.
Conclusion The sharp hike in tobacco tax in 2010 decreased the number of tobacco products sold, while the price elasticity in 2010 was similar to that in 2003 and 2006. Our findings suggest that further increase in tobacco tax is needed to reduce the damage caused by smoking in the people of Japan.