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Availability, price and promotions for cigarettes and non-cigarette tobacco products: an observational comparison of US Air Force bases with nearby tobacco retailers, 2016
  1. Amanda Y Kong1,
  2. Shelley D Golden1,
  3. Allison E Myers1,2,
  4. Melissa A Little3,4,
  5. Robert Klesges3,
  6. Wayne Talcott3,4,
  7. Sara M Vandegrift1,5,
  8. Daniel G Cassidy4,
  9. Kurt M Ribisl1,5
  1. 1 Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Carrboro, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2 Counter Tools, Carrboro, North Carolina, USA
  3. 3 Center for Addiction and Prevention Research, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia Medical School, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  4. 4 Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  5. 5 Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Amanda Y Kong, Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA; akong2{at}


Introduction Active duty military personnel have higher cigarette and smokeless tobacco use rates than civilian populations. Although US Airmen (called Airmen regardless of gender or rank) are required to be tobacco-free during initial training, many resume use once this period ends, perhaps as a result of easy access to cheap tobacco products.

Methods Between July and September 2016, we collected tobacco product, price and promotion information by visiting on-base (n=28) and off-base (n=80) tobacco retailers near the eight technical training bases where approximately 99% of Airmen attend training. We conducted mixed linear effects models to examine on-base versus off-base differences.

Results Cigarette packs were 11%–12% cheaper at on-base retailers compared with off-base retailers. Newport Menthol and Marlboro Red cigarette packs were $0.87 and $0.80 lower on-base (p<0.001) while the cheapest pack available was $0.54 lower on-base (p<0.01). Copenhagen smokeless tobacco was also significantly cheaper on-base (B=−0.65, p<0.01). Interior price promotions were more common on-base.

Conclusions Retail stores located on Air Force bases sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products at prices well below those in nearby off-base retailers: the vast majority of these retailers feature interior price promotions for these products. Federal policies regulating prices of on-base tobacco sales, if implemented more effectively, have the potential to protect the health of Airmen by helping them remain tobacco-free after technical training.

  • priority/special populations
  • public policy
  • price
  • non-cigarette tobacco products
  • advertising and promotion

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  • Contributors SDG, AEM, MAL and KMR contributed to study concept and design. AYK and SV contributed to data acquisition. AYK conducted data analysis and undertook statistical analysis, and all authors contributed to interpretation of the data. AYK and SDG drafted the manuscript, and all authors critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content.

  • Funding Funding for this study was provided by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA037273), and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center provided internal funds to KMR to support data collection. The funders had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis, writing or interpretation.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official views or policy of Department of Defense or its components.

  • Competing interests AEM and KMR have a royalty interest in a store mapping and audit system owned by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the store audit system was used in this study. KMR serves as an expert consultant in litigation against tobacco companies.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.