Retail marketing surveillance research highlights concerns about lower-priced cigarettes in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of racial/ethnic minorities, but focuses almost exclusively on premium brands. A recently published study (Nicotine & Tobacco Research, April 2017) examined neighborhood variation in prices for the cheapest cigarettes and a popular brand of cigarillos in a large statewide sample of licensed tobacco retailers in a low-tax state. A census of eligible licensed tobacco retailers in randomly selected zip codes (n=7,393 stores) was conducted in 2013. Two prices were requested: the cheapest cigarette pack regardless of brand and a single, flavored Swisher Sweets cigarillo.
- Approximately 84% of stores sold cigarettes for less than $5 and a Swisher Sweets cigarillo was available for less than $1 in 74% of stores that sold the brand.
- The cheapest cigarettes cost even less in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of school-age residents and Asian/Pacific Islanders.
The authors concluded that neighborhood disparities in the price of the cheapest combustible tobacco products are a public health threat. The study results underscore the need for policies that reduce availability and increase price of combustible tobacco products, particularly in states with low, stagnant tobacco taxes.
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Source: Henriksen et al. (2017). Neighborhood variation in the price of cheap tobacco products in California: Results from Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, April 22, doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntx089. [Epub ahead of print]