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Comparison of e-cigarette marketing and availability in tobacco retail outlets among diverse low-income communities in California


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

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