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Illicit Tobacco: Policy Responses, Consumption and Attitudes

Iringe-Koko, IB; (2015) Illicit Tobacco: Policy Responses, Consumption and Attitudes. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The existence of the illicit tobacco trade has serious implications for tobacco control efforts as it encourages smoking by providing tobacco products at a cheaper price. Although this illicit trade has serious ramifications for public health in England, there is very limited data on its nature, the extent of its use and smokers’ views on illicit tobacco. This thesis aimed to address this by utilising a mixed methodology approach which consisted of population based surveys of English smokers and in-depth face-to-face interviews with smokers. Prevalence of illicit tobacco use appeared to decrease between 2007-8 and 2012, but there was an increase from 2010-11 to 2012. ‘Under the counter’ tobacco purchases in retail shops emerged as a prominent source of illicit tobacco, although smokers were able to access a number of illicit sources. Smokers who exclusively purchased illicit tobacco paid much less for their tobacco products compared with those who reported exclusive duty-paid tobacco purchases. Report of illicit tobacco use was more likely in younger smokers, males, smokers in low socio-economic groups, smokers of ‘roll your own’ tobacco and those with high tobacco dependence in 2012. However, this changed with each survey, as illicit tobacco use appeared to become more widespread across socio-demographic sub-groups. Illicit tobacco users reported lower levels of motivated to quit smoking. However, smokers in the interview study reported that loss of access to illicit tobacco would drive them to think about quitting or cutting down on their smoking. The interview study revealed that smokers were able to easily access illicit tobacco in their communities and social circles. In addition, smokers viewed the illicit tobacco market and illicit traders approvingly as providing a means of accessing affordable tobacco products. Furthermore, they were unperturbed by the illegality and associated criminality of illicit tobacco trade. Due to the nature of this illegal activity, further research should investigate how the illicit tobacco market evolves in response to policy efforts.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Illicit Tobacco: Policy Responses, Consumption and Attitudes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1463373
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