Background Standardised packaging for factory-made cigarettes (FM) and roll-your-own tobacco (RYO), and a minimum excise tax (MET) were fully implemented in the UK in May 2017 following a 12-month transition period. This paper is the first to examine effects on tobacco sales volumes and company revenues.
Methods Analysis of UK commercial supermarket and convenience store electronic point of sale data on tobacco sales. FM and RYO products' data (May 2015–April 2018) yielded 107 572 monthly observations. Expected values from additive mixed modelling were used to calculate trends in: (1) volumes of tobacco sold overall, by cigarette type (FM and RYO) and by seven market segments; and (2) company net revenues. A 10-month period (June 2015–March 2016) before the transition to standardised packs was compared with a 10-month period after the introduction of the MET and full implementation of standardised packs (June 2017–March 2018).
Results Postimplementation, the average monthly decline in stick sales was 6.4 million (95% CI 0.1 million to 12.7 million) sticks faster than prelegislation, almost doubling the speed of decline. Sales of cheap FM brands, previously increasing, plateaued after implementation. Company monthly net revenues declined from a stable £231 million (95% CI £228 million to £234 million), prelegislation, to £198 million (95% CI £191 million to £206 million) in April 2018.
Conclusions The concurrent introduction of standardised packaging and MET in the UK was associated with significant decline in sales and in tobacco industry revenues, and the end of the previous growth in cheap cigarette brands that appeal to young and price conscious smokers.