Roswell Park Surveys: Area Smokers Opt for Low-Cost Reservation Cigarettes

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Highlights: 
New report shows more WNY residents are buying Native American cigarette brands
RPCI conducted surveys on cigarette brand preferences in Erie, Niagara counties
Buying from reservations "all the time" more than doubled between 2002 and 2011

BUFFALO, NY — More New York smokers in Erie and Niagara counties are selecting cigarette brands manufactured on Native American reservations. That is according to the report “Trends in Cigarette Brand Choice and Cigarette Availability and Marketing on Reservation Retail Stores in Western New York,” authored by Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI).

Andrew Hyland, PhD

“This report indicates that there is a potential shift taking place, with reservation-manufactured brands becoming an acceptable choice for consumers due to lower costs and accessibility,” said Dr. Hyland. “This suggests that New York State’s tax policy to collect New York cigarette excise taxes at the wholesale level has resulted in a change in consumer purchasing practices to locations where state taxes are currently not collected and to lower-cost territory brands. This shift will have a negative effect on cessation rates, especially among low-income individuals.”

The entire population of Erie and Niagara counties resides within 25 miles of an Indian reservation. This accessibility, coupled with current New York State excise tax of $4.35, has made purchasing lower-priced cigarettes on Indian territories a popular option for many area smokers. New York State has attempted to equalize prices and associated tax revenue between major-label cigarettes sold in non-reservation retail outlets and those sold in retail outlets located on reservations. As a result, reservation retailers announced their intention to focus future cigarette sales on brands manufactured on reservations.

Included in the report were findings from two Roswell Park surveys that evaluated over-time changes in cigarette brand preferences of smokers and advertising practices in the reservation retail environment in Erie and Niagara counties, New York.

The Erie-Niagara Tobacco Use Survey (ENTUS) was conducted in 2002, 2004, 2009 and 2011. A total of 1,555 participants identified as current smokers are included in those analyses. Researchers found that the popularity of reservation brands among individuals who reported purchasing from a reservation “all of the time” increased from 22% in 2002 and 2004 to 44.5% in 2009 and 2011.

The second RPCI survey is an analysis of a series of in-store assessments of tobacco product availability, advertising and pricing that occurred in 2006, 2008, and 2011 at 15 cigarette vendors on reservation territories in both Erie and Niagara Counties.

Findings include the following:

  • From 2006 to 2011, the average price per pack for major brands sold on Indian reservations (Marlboro, Newport and Camel) rose from $3.26 to $6.60 per pack.
  • During the same time, the average price per pack of reservation cigarette brands (Seneca, Market, Lewiston, Smokin’ Joes) rose from an average of $1.36 to $2.93 per pack.
  • In 2008, observers noted that seven percent of reservation retailers did not display evidence of the sale of major label cigarette brands in their retail outlets. By 2011, 20% of the reservation outlets displayed no evidence of the sale of major label cigarette brands.

Hyland continued, “The purpose of these surveys is to better understand changes in product selection and advertising in the cigarette retail environment in Erie and Niagara Counties as well as trends in brand preferences within the current tax policy context in New York State. The issues raised in these reports can inform public policy debates with the goal of creating healthier, tobacco-free communities.”

The entire report, titled “Trends in Cigarette Brand Choice and Cigarette Availability and Marketing on Reservation Retail Stores in Western New York,” can be found http://roswelldocs.com/WNY-Reservation-Report.pdf.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Editor’s note: Photo caption: Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair, Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). To receive this image as an attachment, please send a request to annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org