Introduction On 3 January, 2013, the city of Providence, Rhode Island, began enforcing a restriction on the retail sale of all non-cigarette tobacco products with a characterising flavour other than tobacco, menthol, mint or wintergreen. We assessed the policy impact on cigar sales—which comprise 95% of flavoured non-cigarette tobacco products sold through conventional tobacco retail outlets (eg, convenience stores, supermarkets) in Providence—over time and in comparison to the rest of the state (ROS).
Methods Weekly retail scanner sales data were obtained for January 2012 to December 2016. Cigar sales were categorised into products labelled with explicit-flavour (eg, Cherry) or concept-flavour (eg, Jazz) names. Regression models assessed changes in prepolicy and postpolicy sales in Providence and ROS.
Results Average weekly unit sales of flavoured cigars decreased prepolicy to postpolicy by 51% in Providence, while sales increased by 10% in ROS (both p<0.01). The Providence results are due to a 93% reduction in sales of cigars labelled with explicit-flavour names (p<0.01), which did not change significantly in ROS. Sales of cigars labelled with concept-flavour names increased by 74% in Providence and 119% in ROS (both p<0.01). Sales of all cigars—flavoured and otherwise—decreased by 31% in Providence (p<0.01). We detected some evidence of product substitution and cross-border purchasing.
Conclusions The Providence policy had a city-specific impact on retail sales of flavoured cigars, which was attenuated by an increase in sales of concept flavour-named cigars. Products with concept-flavour names may avoid enforcement agency detection, and their continued sale undermines the intent of the policy.
- flavored tobacco products
- sales restriction policy
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Contributors TR conceptualised and designed the study; TR, ALF and DGG drafted the article; DG and EMC conducted data analyses; all authors contributed to writing and editing, and approved the final version of the article.
Funding This study was supported by U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products Contract HHSF223201310007B.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No data are available.