Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Comparison of e-cigarette marketing and availability in tobacco retail outlets among diverse low-income communities in California
  1. Patricia Escobedo1,
  2. Robert Garcia2,
  3. Claradina Soto1,
  4. Yaneth Rodriguez1,
  5. Rosa Barahona1,
  6. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati1
  1. 1 Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2 Health Science Center School of Public Health, Texas A&M University College Station, College Station, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Patricia Escobedo, Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90007, USA; pescobed{at}


Objective Research examining marketing and availability of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) within tobacco retail stores is limited, especially among vulnerable communities. However, tobacco retailers tend to be the first point of access to e-cigarette exposure, especially among youth. In response, store observations were conducted among tobacco retailers across five ethnically diverse, low-income communities.

Design Trained community health workers recorded the presence of e-cigarette products, marketing, self-service displays, product pricing and product placement in the tobacco retail environment across American–Indian Tribal lands in California (n=96) and low-income African–American, Hispanic/Latino (HL), Korean–American (KA) and Non-Hispanic White (NHW) communities in Southern California (n=679) from January 2016 to January 2017. Store characteristics and pricing were analysed by ethnic community.

Results Compared with retailers in NHW communities, retailers across all other communities were less likely to sell e-cigarette and flavoured e-cigarette products and were less likely to have self-service displays. Compared with retailers in NHW communities, retailers across all other communities were less likely to have e-cigarettes placed near youth-friendly items, while retailers in KA and HL communities were less likely to have exterior advertising compared with retailers in NHW communities.

Conclusions Findings indicate differences in e-cigarette availability and marketing by ethnic community. In addition, placement of products and marketing that expose youth to e-cigarette and other tobacco products within the retail environment should be restricted and regulated by policymakers and tobacco regulatory agencies to reduce the burden of tobacco-related diseases among vulnerable populations.

  • electronic cigarettes
  • advertising and promotion
  • disparities
  • socioeconomic status

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors PE and LB-G conceptualised the study. PE led data analysis and wrote the article. RG, CS and RB contributed to writing and revisions. YR managed the data collection and contributed to revisions. LB-G contributed to revisions and was the principal investigator of the broader study.

  • Funding This paper was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NCI-NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) for the USC Tobacco Center for Regulatory Sciences in Vulnerable Populations (NCIP50CA180905) (Pentz/Samet, PIs)—Project 2—Maximizing Tobacco Retailers Participation in FDA Regulation in Vulnerable Ethnic Communities (Baezconde-Garbanati, Project Leader). We also wish to acknowledge the NCI (Grant number: P30CA014089) and the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

  • Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NCI-NIH, FDA or USC.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The university’s Institutional Review Board approved all procedures.

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