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Cheaper tobacco product prices at US Air Force Bases compared with surrounding community areas, 2019


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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