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Trends in cross-border and illicit tobacco purchases among people who smoke in England, 2019-2022

Jackson, Sarah; Cox, Sharon; Brown, James; (2023) Trends in cross-border and illicit tobacco purchases among people who smoke in England, 2019-2022. Tobacco Control 10.1136/tc-2023-057991. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Objectives The last 5 years have seen substantial changes in England’s social and economic landscape as a result of Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis. We aimed to examine changes in crossborder and illicit tobacco purchasing over this period. Design Nationally representative monthly crosssectional survey. Setting England, 2019–2022. Participants 11 232 adults (≥18 years) who smoked in the past year. Main outcome measures We estimated time trends in the proportion reporting purchasing tobacco from (1) cross-border and (2) illicit sources in the past 6 months. Results Between February 2019 and October 2022, there was a non-linear increase in the proportion of participants reporting cross-border tobacco purchases (from 5.2% to 16.1% overall; prevalence ratio (PR)=3.10, 95% CI 2.03–4.73). Prevalence first increased from 5.2% to 15.4% between February 2019 and April 2020, before falling to 7.8% between April 2020 and September 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and then increasing again to 16.1% by the end of the period. Changes in cross-border tobacco purchasing were more pronounced among participants from more advantaged (from 6.6% to 23.3%; PR=3.52, 95% CI 2.05–5.91) compared with less advantaged (4.4% to 11.5%; PR=2.61, 95% CI 1.17–5.20) social grades (pinteraction=0.034). There was no overall change in the proportion reporting illicit tobacco purchases (from 9.2% to 8.5%; PR=0.92, 95% CI 0.70–1.21), nor any significant difference in trends by social grade (pinteraction=0.783). Conclusions Despite a fall in cross-border tobacco purchasing during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic among adults in England who smoke, the proportion reporting cross-border tobacco purchases is now three times higher than it was at the start of 2019. The proportion reporting illicit tobacco purchases has not changed substantially.

Type: Article
Title: Trends in cross-border and illicit tobacco purchases among people who smoke in England, 2019-2022
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/tc-2023-057991
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tc-2023-057991
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10170836
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