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Availability, price and promotions for cigarettes and non-cigarette tobacco products: an observational comparison of US Air Force bases with nearby tobacco retailers, 2016


Introduction Active duty military personnel have higher cigarette and smokeless tobacco use rates than civilian populations. Although US Airmen (called Airmen regardless of gender or rank) are required to be tobacco-free during initial training, many resume use once this period ends, perhaps as a result of easy access to cheap tobacco products.

Methods Between July and September 2016, we collected tobacco product, price and promotion information by visiting on-base (n=28) and off-base (n=80) tobacco retailers near the eight technical training bases where approximately 99% of Airmen attend training. We conducted mixed linear effects models to examine on-base versus off-base differences.

Results Cigarette packs were 11%–12% cheaper at on-base retailers compared with off-base retailers. Newport Menthol and Marlboro Red cigarette packs were $0.87 and $0.80 lower on-base (p<0.001) while the cheapest pack available was $0.54 lower on-base (p<0.01). Copenhagen smokeless tobacco was also significantly cheaper on-base (B=−0.65, p<0.01). Interior price promotions were more common on-base.

Conclusions Retail stores located on Air Force bases sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products at prices well below those in nearby off-base retailers: the vast majority of these retailers feature interior price promotions for these products. Federal policies regulating prices of on-base tobacco sales, if implemented more effectively, have the potential to protect the health of Airmen by helping them remain tobacco-free after technical training.

  • priority/special populations
  • public policy
  • price
  • non-cigarette tobacco products
  • advertising and promotion

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