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Proximity to a tobacco store and smoking cessation: a cohort study
  1. Jaana I Halonen1,
  2. Mika Kivimäki1,2,
  3. Anne Kouvonen3,4,
  4. Jaana Pentti1,
  5. Ichiro Kawachi5,
  6. S V Subramanian5,
  7. Jussi Vahtera1,6
  1. 1Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Kuopio, Turku and Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Medical School, London, UK
  3. 3School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  4. 4UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI), Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  5. 5Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  6. 6Department of Public Health, University of Turku, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jaana I Halonen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Neulaniementie 4, Kuopio 70101, Finland; jaana.halonen{at}


Background It is not clear whether the availability of tobacco affects the likelihood of smoking cessation. We examined whether the proximity to a tobacco store and the number of stores were associated with smoking cessation, and compared results for proximity variables based on walking and straight-line (as the crow flies) distance.

Methods The study population consisted of 8751 baseline smokers from the Finnish Public Sector study in 1997–2005. Smoking intensity (cigarettes/day) was determined at baseline and smoking cessation was determined from a follow-up survey in 2008–2009. Proximity was measured using straight-line and walking distance from home to the nearest tobacco store, and another exposure variable was the number of stores within 0.50 km from home. We calculated associations with log-binomial regression models, adjusting for individual-level and area-level confounders.

Results Of the participants, 3482 (39.8%) quit smoking during the follow-up (mean follow-up 5.5 years, SD 2.3 years). Among men who were moderate/heavy smokers at baseline and lived <0.50 km walking distance from the nearest tobacco store, the likelihood of smoking cessation was 27% (95% CI 12% to 40%) lower compared with those living ≥0.50 km from a store. Having even one store within 0.50 km walking distance from home decreased cessation in men who were moderate/heavy smokers by 37% (95% CI 19% to 51%). No decrease was found for men who were light smokers at baseline or for women.

Conclusions Living within walking distance of a tobacco store reduced the likelihood of smoking cessation among men who were moderate/heavy smokers.

  • Cessation
  • Environment
  • Public policy

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