In November 1996, residents of Oregon approved
a $0.30 increase in the cigarette tax (to $0.68 per pack). The
measure stipulated that 10% of the additional tax revenue be
allocated to the Oregon Health Division to develop and implement a
tobacco-use prevention program. In 1997, the health division created
the Oregon Tobacco Prevention and Education Program (TPEP), a
comprehensive, community-based program modeled on the successful
tobacco-use prevention programs in California and Massachusetts.
To assess both the effects of the tax increase and the TPEP in
Oregon, the Oregon Health Division evaluated data on the number of
packs of cigarettes taxed before (1993-1996) and after (1997-1998)
the ballot initiative and implementation of the program. The results
were also compared with national data. This article summarizes the
results of that analysis, which indicate that consumption of
cigarettes in Oregon declined substantially after implementation of
the excise tax and TPEP and even exceeded the national rate of decline.
Source of Data
The Oregon Health Division obtained data on the sale of cigarette tax
stamps from the Oregon Department of Revenue for 1993 through 1998.
The agency also obtained data on the proportion of revenue received
at the old and new rates after the tax change (February 1997) to
calculate the number of packs sold each month. Per capita cigarette
consumption was calculated by dividing the number of packs sold by
the total population of Oregon each year.
National comparison estimates were generated using data from the
Tobacco Institute on state tax receipts for wholesale cigarette
deliveries. Reliable figures were available through December 1997.
Data from Oregon and the other three states (Arizona, California, and
Massachusetts) with tobacco-use prevention programs funded through
state initiatives were excluded from the comparison estimates.
National per capita consumption was calculated by dividing the total
number of packs sold by the total population in the remaining 46
states and the District of Columbia. Calculations for Oregon for 1996
to 1998 represent the 1 year before and the 2 years after the tax increase.
From 1993 to 1996, taxable per capita consumption of cigarettes
increased 2.2% in Oregon and decreased 0.6% in the 46 remaining
states and the District of Columbia. From 1996 to 1998, taxable per
capita cigarette consumption declined 11.3% in Oregon (from 92 packs
to 82 packs; Figure 1). Despite a
2.7% increase in the states population, 25 million fewer
cigarette packs were sold in 1998 than in 1996. In the United States,
during 1996 to 1997, per capita consumption declined 1.0% (from 93 to
Editorial Note From the CDC
Two years after the implementation of a ballot measure to increase
the excise tax on tobacco and initiate TPEP, per capita consumption
declined 11.3% in Oregon, or the equivalent of 200 cigarettes (10
packs) per capita. Elements of the program include community-based
tobacco-use prevention coalitions in every county; a statewide public
awareness and education campaign; comprehensive school-based
programs; tribal tobacco-use prevention programs; multicultural
outreach and education; a quitters help line providing smoking
cessation support; and projects evaluating new approaches to prevent
or reduce tobacco use. The Tobacco Prevention and Education Program
has an annual budget of $8.5 million, 93% of which is awarded in
grants or contracts to external partners (eg, county health
departments, community-based agencies, tribal governments, and
private-sector partners implementing the public awareness campaign).
Decreased consumption is probably a result of both the tobacco-use
prevention program and the increase in the price of cigarettes. Price
elasticity of demand, defined as the percentage change in demand for
cigarettes resulting from a 1% change in price, is an estimated
-0.4%. A 15.8% increase in the price of cigarettes (the amount of the
price increase in Oregon, calculated in 1996 dollars) should result
in a 6.3% decrease in cigarette consumption. The findings in this
report are consistent with reports from other states with tobacco-use
prevention programs and indicate that excise taxes in conjunction
with prevention programs reduce cigarette consumption more than
excise taxes alone.
Other Factors Potentially Responsible for Downward Trend
Other factors that could account for the decrease in cigarette
consumption in Oregon probably did not contribute to the decline.
Smuggling or cross-border sales probably are insignificant because a
large proportion of Oregons population resides in Portland,
near Washington, where cigarette prices are higher. Increased sales
on Indian reservations in the state probably would not contribute to
the decline because cigarettes sold on reservations are taxed, and
tribes are reimbursed only for tobacco taxes paid by tribal members.
Another possibility is that the observed downward trend for Oregon
may reflect national declines. Although reliable national data are
not available for 1998, it is unlikely that the decrease in Oregon
reflects secular trends.
During 1990-1997, the annual rate of decline in cigarette consumption
for all 50 states averaged only 1.4%.
Oregons decrease in cigarette consumption also appears to be
resulting in decreases in cigarette smoking prevalence. Preliminary
data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for
1996-1998 indicate that the prevalence of smoking among adults in
Oregon declined 6.4%, representing 35,000 fewer smokers. The decline
in cigarette consumption in Oregon, California, and Massachusetts
indicates that an adequately funded, comprehensive tobacco-control
program can quickly and substantially reduce tobacco use.