From the Journals

E-cigarettes: Prices down, sales up



Any economist could have predicted it: As the price of electronic cigarettes goes down, sales increase.

E-cigarette sales by product type, 2012 and 2016

The average prices of three mutually exclusive e-cigarette products – rechargeable devices, disposable devices, and disposable cartridges filled with e-liquid – all dropped from 2012 to 2016, as did that of a fourth product – e-liquid bottles for filling reusable cartridges – not available nationwide until 2014. At the same time, average monthly sales for e-cigarette products overall rose by a statistically significant 132%, Teresa W. Wang, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and her associates reported in Preventing Chronic Disease.

Sales of prefilled cartridges, the most popular product by the end of the study period, increased 256%, going from 215 units per 100,000 people each month in 2012 to 766 units. [For the study, a unit was defined as one rechargeable, one disposable, one pack of five prefilled cartridges, or one bottle of e-liquid.] Disposables were the most popular product at the start of the study period but had the smallest relative increase (27%), while monthly sales of rechargeables jumped by 154% and e-liquids saw a 64% rise, the investigators said.

Price decreases for the three products available in 2012 were all significant: The average price per unit was down 48% for rechargeables by 2016, 14% for disposables, and 12% for prefilled cartridges. E-liquids were 9% cheaper by 2016, but that change did not reach significance, they noted.

“Overall, the increase in e-cigarette sales and decrease in price is consistent with previous studies demonstrating that e-cigarette sales are responsive to their own price changes. These trends suggest that, if e-cigarette prices continue to decrease, their sales may also continue to rise,” Dr. Wang and her associates wrote.

The data for the study came from the Nielsen Company and were based on retail sales at convenience stores; supermarkets; drug, dollar, and club stores; and military commissaries in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. One study limitation was the lack of data from tobacco/vape shops and the Internet.

SOURCE: Wang TW et al. Prev Chronic Dis. 2018;15:170555. doi: 10.5888/pcd15.170555.

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