Minimum tobacco pricing could significantly improve the health of people living in Scotland’s most economically disadvantaged areas

New research involving SPECTRUM members and partners has investigated variations in tobacco price across Scottish convenience stores

20 March 2020

Professors Niamh Shortt and Jamie Pearce based at the Centre for Research on Environment, Society & Health, School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with colleagues from NHS Health Scotland (a SPECTRUM partner), the University of East Anglia and the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow, investigated how tobacco price varied across 270 Scottish convenience stores. 

Using data collected by another SPECTRUM partner, The Retail Data Partnership, the team analysed more than 120,000 purchases within those stores during one week in April 2018 and compared retail price with neighbourhood income deprivation and whether the shop was in a rural or urban setting. The study is the first to report on neighbourhood variation in all tobacco sales, not just the most popular or cheapest brands.

The team discovered that the cost of tobacco varied markedly across neighbourhoods with the average purchase price found to be 50p less for a pack of 20 cigarettes, and 34p less for "roll your own" tobacco, in areas with highest income deprivation, compared with the most affluent neighbourhoods. 

As a result, the research suggests clearly that increasing the price of the cheapest products will support people in the most disadvantaged areas the most and potentially lead to the greatest health gains by preventing uptake and helping people to quit.  

The research was funded by NHS Health Scotland and was published in Tobacco Control.

Read the paper in Tobacco Control

Related links

School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh website

NHS Health Scotland website

Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia website

MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow website

The Retail Data Partnership website