Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Evaluating how licensing-law strategies will impact disparities in tobacco retailer density: a simulation in Ohio
  1. Peter F Craigmile1,
  2. Nathaniel Onnen1,
  3. Elli Schwartz2,
  4. Allison Glasser2,
  5. Megan E Roberts2
  1. 1Department of Statistics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, United States
  2. 2College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, United States
  1. Correspondence to Dr Megan E Roberts, Columbus, Ohio, USA; roberts.1558{at}


Objectives To assess tobacco licensing-law strategies (eg, restricting the sale of tobacco near schools, banning the sale of tobacco in pharmacies) in terms of the equity of their impact and ability to correct existing disparities in tobacco retailer density.

Methods We geocoded all 11 392 tobacco retailers in Ohio, categorised neighbourhoods based on their demographic characteristics and calculated current disparities in tobacco retailer density. We next simulated the four main types of licensing-law strategies (capping-based, declustering-based, school-based and pharmacy-based), as well as strategy combinations. Finally, using statistical methods that account for residual spatial dependence, we evaluated how each strategy would impact density disparities.

Findings The most impactful licensing-law strategy depended on the type of community. School-based reductions were equitable for low-income, African–American and urban neighbourhoods (eg, eliminating retailers from 1000 feet of all schools produced a 9.2% reduction in the log retailer rate for neighbourhoods with a low prevalence of African–Americans and a 17.7% reduction for neighbourhoods with a high prevalence of African–Americans). Conversely, capping-based reductions were equitable for rural neighbourhoods. Pharmacy-based reductions demonstrated inequitable impacts.

Conclusion Licensing-law strategies could be a central tobacco control effort that benefits both the overall population and vulnerable communities. Policymakers will need to consider their community’s characteristics when selecting licensing-law strategies to correct (rather than inadvertently widen) density disparities. But when matched with the appropriate strategy, high-risk communities could remove over 20% of their tobacco retailers.

  • disparities
  • public policy
  • environment

Statistics from


  • Correction notice This paper has been updated since first published to correct author name 'Allison Glasser'.

  • Contributors MER developed the idea for the project; ES and AG worked on obtaining and cleaning data; PC and NO conducted the analyses; MER and PC drafted the manuscript; all authors contributed to the revision of the manuscript and approve the final version.

  • Funding This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute under grant R21CA212308.

  • 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 upon reasonable request. Data are publicly available; the cleaned dataset used by the authors is available from the authors upon request.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.