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Cheaper tobacco product prices at US Air Force Bases compared with surrounding community areas, 2019
  1. Amanda Y Kong1,2,3,
  2. Shelley D Golden3,4,
  3. Kurt M Ribisl3,4,
  4. Rebecca A Krukowski5,
  5. Sara M Vandegrift3,
  6. Melissa A Little6
  1. 1 TSET Health Promotion Research Center, Stephenson Cancer Center, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA
  2. 2 Family & Preventive Medicine, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA
  3. 3 Health Behavior, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  4. 4 Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  5. 5 Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, USA
  6. 6 Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Melissa A Little, Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA; mal7uj{at}


Introduction In March 2017, the US Department of Defense (DoD) implemented a policy requiring all military stores to set tobacco prices equal to ‘prevailing prices’ in the ‘local community’ adjusted for state and local taxes. We compared tobacco product prices in a sample of retailers located on five Air Force Bases (AFBs) in Texas and Mississippi with those sold in nearby off-base stores.

Methods We constructed a list of on-base and off-base tobacco retailers. Off-base retailers included stores that were located within a 1.5-mile road network service area from main AFB gates. Between July and September 2019, a trained auditor visited 23 on-base and 50 off-base retailers to confirm tobacco product sales, and documented the price of cigarettes and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco. For each area, the median price for each product, as well as the difference in median prices by on-base versus off-base status, was calculated.

Results The median price of cigarettes and smokeless products was cheaper at on-base retailers. All products were cheaper at on-base stores in Fort Sam Houston and Lackland AFB. Similarly, all products were cheaper in on-base stores at Keesler AFB, with the exception of Marlboro Red packs ($0.22 more), and at Sheppard AFB with the exception of cheapest cigarette cartons ($6.26 more).

Conclusion Despite the implementation of the new DoD policy, tobacco products are cheaper in on-base retailers compared with off-base retailers. Refining of the definitions used and improved compliance with the new DoD policy are needed.

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  • Contributors AYK, SDG, KMR and MAL conceived of the idea and study design. SMV collected the data. AYK and SDG designed the analyses. AYK conducted the analyses. AYK, RAK, and MAL led the writing of the first draft of the paper. All authors contributed to data interpretation and revisions and approved of the manuscript. ML accepts full responsibility for the finished work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.

  • Funding This work was supported by funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA043468) of the National Institutes of Health. AYK was additionally supported by the National Cancer Institute (T32CA128582, P30CA225520) and the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET; R21-02).

  • Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the funders. The research represents a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement with the US Air Force (CRADA #17-250-59MDW-C17004). The opinions expressed in this document are solely those of the authors and do not represent an endorsement by or the views of the US Air Force, the Department of Defence or the US Government.

  • Map disclaimer The inclusion of any map (including the depiction of any boundaries therein), or of any geographic or locational reference, does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of BMJ concerning the legal status of any country, territory, jurisdiction or area or of its authorities. Any such expression remains solely that of the relevant source and is not endorsed by BMJ. Maps are provided without any warranty of any kind, either express or implied.

  • Competing interests KMR serves as an expert consultant in litigation against tobacco companies.

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