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The changing retail landscape for tobacco: dollar stores and the availability of cheap cigarettes among tobacco-related priority populations
  1. Ilana G Raskind1,
  2. Monika Vishwakarma1,
  3. Nina C Schleicher1,
  4. Elizabeth Andersen-Rodgers2,
  5. Lisa Henriksen1
  1. 1 Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA
  2. 2 California Tobacco Control Program, California Department of Public Health, Sacramento, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ilana G Raskind, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94304, USA; iraskind{at}


Introduction Dollar stores are rapidly altering the retail landscape for tobacco. Two of the three largest chains sell tobacco products in more than 24 000 stores across the USA. We sought to examine whether dollar stores are more likely to be located in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and whether dollar stores charge less for cigarettes than other tobacco retailers.

Methods Data were collected from a statewide random sample of licensed tobacco retailers in California (n=7678) in 2019. Logistic regression modelled odds of a census tract containing at least one dollar store as a function of tract demographics. Linear mixed models compared price of the cheapest cigarette pack by store type, controlling for tract demographics.

Results Census tracts with lower median household income, rural status and higher proportions of school-age youth were more likely to contain at least one dollar store. The cheapest cigarette pack cost less in dollar stores compared with all store types examined except tobacco shops. Estimated price differences ranged from $0.32 (95% CI: 0.14 to 0.51) more in liquor stores and $0.39 (95% CI: 0.22 to 0.57) more in convenience stores, to $0.82 (95% CI: 0.64 to 1.01) more in small markets and $1.86 (95% CI: 1.61 to 2.11) more in stores classified as ‘other’.

Conclusions Dollar stores may exacerbate smoking-related inequities by contributing to the availability of cheaper cigarettes in neighbourhoods that are lower income, rural and have greater proportions of youth. Pro-equity retail policies, such as minimum price laws and density reduction policies, could mitigate the health consequences of dollar stores’ rapid expansion.

  • disparities
  • environment
  • price
  • socioeconomic status

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request to the California Tobacco Control Program.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request to the California Tobacco Control Program.

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  • Contributors IGR and LH conceptualised the research questions. EA-R, LH, and NCS oversaw the study design and data collection. IGR led the analysis and drafted the manuscript. NCS and MV supported data analysis. All authors critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content.

  • Funding This study was funded by California Department of Public Health (California Tobacco Control Program #17-10041), and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (T32HL007034).

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.