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How Far to the Border?: The Extent and Impact of Cross-Border Casual Cigarette Smuggling

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  • Michael F. Lovenheim

    ()
    (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University)

Abstract

This paper uses micro-data on cigarette consumption from four waves of the CPS Tobacco Supplement to estimate cigarette demand models that incorporate the decision of whether to smuggle cigarettes across a state or Native American Reservation border. I find demand elasticities with respect to the home state price are indistinguishable from zero on average and vary significantly with the distance individuals live to a lower-price border. However, when smuggling incentives are eradicated, the price elasticity is negative, though still inelastic. I also estimate cross-border sales cause a modest increase in consumption, and between 13 and 25 percent of consumers purchase cigarettes in border localities in the CPS sample. The central implication of this study is, while cigarette taxes are ineffective at achieving the goals for which they were levied in many states, there are significant potential gains from price increases that are confounded by cross-border sales.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 06-040.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision: Oct 2009
Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:06-040

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Keywords: Cigarette taxes; Cigarette smuggling; Cigarette demand; Tax evasion; Com- modity taxation;

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References

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  1. Thursby, Jerry G. & Thursby, Marie C., 2000. "Interstate Cigarette Bootlegging: Extent, Revenue Losses, and Effects of Federal Intervention," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 1), pages 59-78, March.
  2. Lewit, Eugene M. & Coate, Douglas, 1982. "The potential for using excise taxes to reduce smoking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 121-145, August.
  3. Baltagi, Badi H & Levin, Dan, 1986. "Estimating Dynamic Demand for Cigarettes Using Panel Data: The Effects of Bootlegging, Taxation and Advertising Reconsidered," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(1), pages 148-55, February.
  4. Gruber, Jonathan & Sen, Anindya & Stabile, Mark, 2003. "Estimating price elasticities when there is smuggling: the sensitivity of smoking to price in Canada," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 821-842, September.
  5. Baltagi, Badi H. & Levin, Dan, 1992. "Cigarette taxation: Raising revenues and reducing consumption," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 321-335, December.
  6. Frank J. Chaloupka, 1990. "Rational Addictive Behavior and Cigarette Smoking," NBER Working Papers 3268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Austan Goolsbee & Michael F. Lovenheim & Joel Slemrod, 2010. "Playing with Fire: Cigarettes, Taxes, and Competition from the Internet," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 131-54, February.
  8. Benham, Lee, 1981. "The Effects of Government Regulation on Teenage Smoking: Comment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 571-73, December.
  9. Coats, R. Morris, 1995. "A Note on Estimating Cross-Border Effects of State Cigarette Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(4), pages 573-84, December.
  10. Keeler, Theodore E. & Hu, Teh-wei & Manning, Willard G. & Sung, Hai-Yen, 2001. "State Tobacco Taxation, Education and Smoking: Controlling for the Effects of Omitted Variables," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 1), pages 83-102, March.
  11. Keeler, Theodore E. & Hu, Teh-wei & Barnett, Paul G. & Manning, Willard G. & Sung, Hai-Yen, 1996. "Do cigarette producers price-discriminate by state? An empirical analysis of local cigarette pricing and taxation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 499-512, August.
  12. Greg Colman & Dahlia K. Remler, 2004. "Vertical Equity Consequences of Very High Cigarette Tax Increases: If the Poor are the Ones Smoking, How Could Cigarette Tax Increases be Progressive?," NBER Working Papers 10906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Marie C. Thursby & Jerry G. Thursby, 1994. "Interstate Cigarette Bootlegging: Extent, Revenue Losses, and Effects of Government Intervention," NBER Working Papers 4763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Eugene M. Lewit & Douglas Coate & Michael Grossman, 1981. "The Effects of Government Regulation on Teenage Smoking," NBER Working Papers 0655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Farrelly, Matthew C. & Pechacek, Terry F. & Chaloupka, Frank J., 2003. "The impact of tobacco control program expenditures on aggregate cigarette sales: 1981-2000," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 843-859, September.
  16. Farrelly, Matthew C. & Bray, Jeremy W. & Zarkin, Gary A. & Wendling, Brett W., 2001. "The joint demand for cigarettes and marijuana: evidence from the National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 51-68, January.
  17. Ayda A. Yurekli & Ping Zhang, 2000. "The impact of clean indoor-air laws and cigarette smuggling on demand for cigarettes: an empirical model," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 159-170.
  18. Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Saffer, 1992. "Clean Indoor Air Laws And The Demand For Cigarettes," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 10(2), pages 72-83, 04.
  19. Stehr, Mark, 2005. "Cigarette tax avoidance and evasion," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 277-297, March.
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