Sam Filby presents poster on African cigarette price data landscape at San Francisco symposium

24 May 2024
Sam Filby African cigarette price data landscape
24 May 2024

On 26 April 2024, Sam Filby presented a poster on the African cigarette price data landscape at the ‘It’s About a Billion Lives Annual Symposium’, hosted by the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Sam is studying towards her PhD at UCSF, on a Fulbright Scholarship. The annual symposium showcases researchers’ interdisciplinary work that aims to develop impactful policies, cessation interventions, and awareness of the effects of the epidemic of smoking and substance use on public health.

Her research, funded by the CDC Foundation, locates and describes datasets that provide information on cigarette prices in African countries. Through searches of three data repositories and relevant literature, Sam found 129 datasets, covering 39 of Africa’s 47 countries, that included information on cigarette prices. Just over half of these datasets (51%) were collected in countries located in Southern Africa, 26% from countries in Eastern Africa, 17% from countries in Western Africa, and 6% from countries in Central Africa.

The study found that most datasets (around 85%) provide self-reported price information. Moreover, analysis of the price estimates showed that cigarette prices collected through observation at retailers exhibit proportionately fewer outliers than self-reported prices, suggesting that prices collected through observations at retailers may be more reliable than those that are based on self-reported information.

The dataset search process also revealed that three surveys are implemented repeatedly in most African countries to monitor health behaviours, including cigarette smoking: WHO STEPwise, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, and Demographic and Health Surveys. Only eleven African countries have used these surveys to collect information on cigarette prices. Moreover, since 2012, no datasets that collect self-reported information on cigarette prices amongst the youth (aged <15) were found.

Sam argues that a broader base of cigarette-price information for the African region could be attained through proactive efforts by the tobacco-control community. These efforts should include lobbying governments to leverage existing surveys that already collect information on cigarette-smoking behaviour so that they also collect information on the prices that people pay for the cigarettes that they smoke.

However, she does not think this is a stand-alone solution for expanding Africa’s cigarette price information base, since current surveys of cigarette-smoking behaviour do not sample from the youth. To address this, Sam recommends expanding observational price-data collection efforts. This would address the existing information gap concerning the prices that young people pay for cigarettes and improve understanding of the degree of misreporting in self-response surveys that currently dominate the African cigarette-price landscape.

The paper that underlies Sam’s poster presentation is currently under review at a journal. Once the paper is published, we will report on it in the REEP newsletter. The poster presented at the event can be accessed here: The African cigarette price data landscape: gaps & opportunities