This study considers the effect of household tobacco expenditure on food consumption in Tanzania. The study hypothesizes that the majority of Tanzanians belong to a low-income group and that any expenditure on cigarettes or tobacco is at the expense of basic necessities, especially food. To verify this hypothesis, we first compared various expenditure patterns as well as household size of nonsmokers and smokers. The results showed that the majority of nonsmokers and smokers belong to a low-income group and that the mean total per capita expenditure (proxy for income) of nonsmokers is slightly higher than that of smokers. Similar results were observed for per capita food expenditure. On the other hand, the mean household size of nonsmokers was smaller than that of smokers suggesting that smokers should have spent more on food. The per capita tobacco expenditure among smokers was 7.73 percent of per capita food expenditure.
We estimated a multiple linear regression on the determinants of per capita food expenditure. For each cigarette consumed, per capita food expenditure would decrease by 67.7 Tanzanian shillings (0.08 US dollars). People who smoke and belong to a high-income group (interaction effect) tend to continue to spend less on food. People who are less educated, who are rural dwellers, and people with a large household size, that is, poor people, tend to spend less on food.
Given that the majority of all respondents are classified as low-income (more than 54 percent of total expenditure spent on food), one might conclude that expenditure on tobacco in Tanzania is at the expense of basic needs, especially food.
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