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

  • Lovenheim, Michael F.

This paper uses data on cigarette consumption in the Current Population Survey Tobacco Supplements to estimate cigarette demand models that incorporate the decision of whether to smuggle cigarettes across a lower–price 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 but still inelastic. I also estimate between 13 and 25 percent of consumers purchase cigarettes in border localities. The central implication of this study is cross–border smuggling confounds many of the potential health and revenue gains from cigarette taxation.

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Article provided by National Tax Association in its journal National Tax Journal.

Volume (Year): 61 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 7-33

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Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:61:y:2008:i:1:p:7-33
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  1. 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.
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  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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  11. 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.
  12. 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.
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  14. Austan Goolsbee & Michael Lovenheim & Joel B. Slemrod, 2009. "Playing With Fire: Cigarettes, Taxes and Competition From the Internet," NBER Working Papers 15612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Stehr, Mark, 2005. "Cigarette tax avoidance and evasion," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 277-297, March.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
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