1. Agust n Montesa,
  2. Joan R Villalb b
  1. aFacultade de Medicina e Odontolox a, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, bInstitut Municipal de Salut P blica, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Joan R Villalb , Institut Municipal de Salut P blica, Pl Lesseps 1, 08023 Barcelona, Spainjrvillal at
  • Received 18 October 2000
  • Revised 9 January 2001
  • Accepted 18 January 2001


BACKGROUND A major factor influencing tobacco use is its price. Fiscal policies on tobacco are a key ingredient of any comprehensive control strategy, as they can be used to raise prices. The European Union (EU) developed directives to ensure some harmonisation of the fiscal pressure on tobacco across its member states.

OBJECTIVES To provide a simple comparison of tobacco prices in the EU, adjusting for the purchasing power of each currency.

DESIGN For price comparisons, a 20 units pack of Marlboro was the reference product, and data refer to April 2000. Purchasing power parities (PPP) for each member state currency have been compiled. These are currency conversion rates, which convert to a common currency and equalise the purchasing power of different currencies.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Nominal prices of a Marlboro pack for each member state, and a price index, estimated taking as reference the EU mean. Adjusted prices and an adjusted price index have been estimated using PPP.

RESULTS Nominal prices show wide variation, with the cheapest pack in Portugal (59) and the most expensive in the UK (196) the range of variation is three fold. However, PPP adjusted prices reveal a different distribution. In three countries adjusted prices are outliers, but all other countries make two clusters, one around the average EU index of 100, the other around a lower value of 85.

CONCLUSIONS These results suggest that fiscal harmonisation policies in the EU do not have an even effect at reducing availability by its impact in price.

  • cigarette price
  • fiscal policy
  • health policy
  • European Union.


    Eu set to introduce draconian overregulation of e-cigarettes : european conservatives and reformists group

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    A provisional deal reached tonight between MEPs and national governments on a new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) will take the majority of e cigarettes off the market.

    European Conservatives and Reformists Group leader and shadow rapporteur on the directive Martin Callanan MEP said he could not support the agreement, which would enable the EU to ban ‘refillables’ (which comprise a large component of the e cigs market), if only three EU countries ban them. It would also restrict all but the weaker e cigarettes (20 mg/ml nicotine), and it would introduce burdensome new manufacturing provisions for nicotine cartridges that go beyond the safety measures needed to make then child proof.

    The TPD was originally aimed at discouraging younger people from taking up smoking. However, Mr Callanan now believes it could have the perverse effect of pushing people who have moved from real cigarettes to electronic cigarettes back to the more harmful option.

    Mr Callanan said

    “This is a perverse decision that risks sending more people back to real, more harmful, cigarettes.

    “Refillable e cigarettes would almost certainly be banned, and only the weakest products will be generally available. As many smokers begin on stronger e cigs and gradually reduce their dosage, making stronger e cigs harder to come across will encourage smokers to stay on tobacco.

    “E cigarettes have helped people give up tobacco. They are not completely safe and they may need regulation but they are a great deal safer than cigarettes and this agreement will make them harder for smokers to obtain.

    “The fight is not over. National governments and the parliament plenary must still endorse this deal. We will continue to fight for sensible and proportionate regulation of e cigarettes.

    “The EU keeps talking the talk on producing more sensible legislation. This legislation shows it clearly isn’t walking the walk. Thousands of e cigs users have contacted me, and I will keep fighting for them until the last minute.”