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Compliance with the City of Chicago’s partial ban on menthol cigarette sales


Introduction In the USA, menthol cigarettes are associated with smoking initiation and decreased likelihood of cessation, particularly for low-income and non-White populations. Local ordinances to restrict menthol cigarette sales are an emergent policy option. In July 2016, Chicago, Illinois became the first major US city to ban menthol cigarette sales within 500 feet of schools. This study assessed ban compliance in June 2017.

Methods We randomly selected 100 of 154 stores within 500 feet of a high school. Ninety stores were included in the analysis, excluding permanently closed stores or stores that did not sell tobacco prior to the ban. Compliance was determined by whether a menthol cigarette pack was purchased. We also assessed presence of menthol cigarette replacement packs. Multivariable logistic regression modelled compliance by store type, school (distance to high school, school type) and neighbourhood-level factors (poverty level, proportion of non-White residents).

Results Compliance rate was 57% (weighted, n=53) and no replacement packs were observed. Non-compliant stores were more likely to advertise menthol cigarettes, but ads were present in eight compliant stores. Gas stations had 81% lower odds (OR=0.19, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.58) of complying with the menthol cigarette ban compared with larger/chain stores. School-level and neighbourhood factors were not associated with compliance.

Discussion The poor compliance observed with Chicago’s partial menthol cigarette ban highlights the need for comprehensive efforts. Optimising local resources to target enforcement efforts in gas stations could improve compliance. Ordinances that also restrict advertising could potentially enhance ban impact by reducing exposure to product and promotions.

  • public policy
  • advocacy
  • disparities
  • advertising and promotion
  • prevention

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