Immigrants often experience economic hardship in their host country and tend to belong to economically disadvantaged groups. Individuals of lower socioeconomic status tend to be more sensitive to cigarette price changes. This study explores the cigarette purchasing patterns among Chinese Canadian male immigrants.
Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 22 Chinese Canadian immigrants who were smoking or had quit smoking in the last five years.
Because of financial pressures experienced by participants, the high price of Canadian cigarettes posed a significant challenge to their continued smoking. While some immigrants bought fully-taxed cigarettes from licensed retailers, more often they sought low-cost cigarettes from a variety of sources. The two most important sources were cigarettes imported during travels to China and online purchases of Chinese cigarettes. The cigarettes obtained through online transactions were imported by smoking or non-smoking Chinese immigrants and visitors, suggesting the Chinese community were involved or complicit in sustaining this form of purchasing behavior. Other less common sources included Canada-USA cross border purchasing, roll your-own pouch tobacco, and buying cigarettes available on First Nations reserves.
Chinese Canadian immigrant men used various means to obtain cheap cigarettes. Future research studies could explore more detailed features of access to expose gaps in policy and improve tobacco regulatory frameworks.