Association of Cigarette Prices with the Prevalence of Smoking in Korean University Students: Analysis of Effects of the Tobacco Control Policy


Background: Increased pricing of cigarettes might be one of the most effective approaches for reducing theprevalence of smoking. This study aimed to investigate the effects of increasing cigarette prices through taxationby a tobacco intervention policy on the changes in smoking prevalence in Korean university students. Materialsand
Methods: The participants in this study were 23,047 healthy university students aged 18-29 years from ahealth examination in 2011-2015. We investigated the adjusted prevalence of daily and occasional smokingbefore and after increasing cigarette prices through taxation.
Results: The prevalence of occasional smoking wassignificantly decreased in 2015 from 2014 in both male (from 10.7% in 2014 to 5.4%) and female (from 3.6% to1.1%) students, but the prevalence of daily smoking did not decrease significantly. The frequency of individualswho had attempted smoking cessation during the past year was significantly higher among occasional smokersin male students (90.2%) compared with daily smokers (64.9%). For female students, there were no differencesin experience of smoking cessation, willingness for smoking cessation, or E-cigarette experience between dailyand occasional smokers.
Conclusions: We found that a policy of increasing cigarette prices through taxation isassociated with decreases in the prevalence of occasional smokers, who have relatively lower nicotine dependencecompared with individuals who smoke daily. The results of our study suggest that social support and directintervention for smoking cessation at the community level are needed for university students alongside thepricing policy.