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Using point-of-sale data to examine tobacco pricing across neighbourhoods in Scotland
  1. Niamh K Shortt1,
  2. Helena Tunstall1,
  3. Richard Mitchell2,
  4. Emma Coombes3,
  5. Andy Jones3,
  6. Garth Reid4,
  7. Jamie Pearce1
  1. 1School of Geosciences, Univerity of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  4. 4NHS Health Scotland, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Niamh K Shortt, School of Geosciences, Univerity of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, UK; niamh.shortt{at}


Objectives To assess the geographical variation in tobacco price (cigarettes and roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco) in convenience stores across Scotland and how this relates to neighbourhood income deprivation, tobacco retail outlet density and urban/rural status.

Methods Tobacco price data from 124 566 shopping baskets purchased in 274 convenience stores during 1 week in April 2018 were obtained through an electronic point-of-sale system. These data were combined with neighbourhood-level measures of income deprivation, tobacco retail outlet density and urban/rural status. We examined brand price for 12 of the most popular cigarette brands and 3 RYO brands and variations in purchases by price segment; multivariable regression analysis assessed associations between area variables and tobacco price.

Results Most stores sold tobacco in all price segments. The lowest priced subvalue brands were the most popular in all neighbourhoods but were most dominant in shops in more deprived neighbourhoods. When total sales were assessed, overall purchase price varied significantly by neighbourhood income deprivation; packets of 20 cigarettes were 50 pence (5.6%) lower and RYO 34 pence (2.7%) lower among shops in the two highest income deprivation quintiles relative to the lowest. Analysis of individual brands showed that for 3 of the 12 cigarette brands considered, average prices were 12–17 pence lower in more deprived neighbourhoods with the most popular RYO brand 15 pence lower. There was limited evidence of a relationship with tobacco retail outlet density.

Conclusion Across Scottish convenience stores, the purchase price of cigarettes and RYO was lower in more income-deprived neighbourhoods. The lower prices primarily reflect greater sales of cheap brands in these areas, rather than retailers reducing the prices of individual brands.

  • availability
  • price
  • deprivation
  • outlet density
  • sales data

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  • Contributors All authors have made substantial contributions to this paper. NKS, JP and RM conceptualised the study. HT carried out the analysis and along with NKS, JP, RM, GR, AJ and EC interpreted the results. NKS and HT drafted the paper with critical review and significant comments from JP, RM, GR, EC and AJ.

  • Funding This research was funded by National Health Service Health Scotland.NS and JP are members of SPECTRUM a UK Prevention Research Partnership Consortium. UKPRP is an initiative funded by the UK Research and Innovation Councils, the Department of Health and Social Care (England) and the UK devolved administrations, and leading health research charities.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. Data on tobacco outlet density available from the authors. Data on tobacco purchases must be requested from the Tobacco Retail Data Partnership.

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