The Single Cigarette Economy in India - a Back of the Envelope Survey to Estimate its Magnitude


Background: Sale of single cigarettes is an important factor for early experimentation, initiation andpersistence of tobacco use and a vital factor in the smoking epidemic in India as it is globally. Single cigarettesalso promote the sale of illicit cigarettes and neutralises the effect of pack warnings and effective taxation, makingtobacco more accessible and affordable to minors. This is the first study to our knowledge which estimates thesize of the single stick market in India. Materials and
Methods: In February 2014, a 10 jurisdiction survey wasconducted across India to estimate the sale of cigarettes in packs and sticks, by brands and price over a full businessday.
Results: We estimate that nearly 75% of all cigarettes are sold as single sticks annually, which translates tonearly half a billion US dollars or 30 percent of the India’s excise revenues from all cigarettes. This is the pricewhich the consumers pay but is not captured through tax and therefore pervades into an informal economy.
Conclusions: Tracking the retail price of single cigarettes is an efficient way to determine the willingness to payby cigarette smokers and is a possible method to determine the tax rates in the absence of any other rationale.