According to a new study published in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease, the availability of tobacco products in food stores in Albany, NY has decreased over the past 12 years, but remains high at 74.5% in 2015. The study, conducted by researchers Akiko S Hosler, Douglas H Done, Isaac H Michaels, Diana C Guarasi, and Jamie R Kammer at the University of Albany School of Public Health, also found that electronic cigarettes were sold by 63.7% of tobacco retailers, and that there were significant declines in tobacco availability and advertising in pharmacies and convenience stores. These declines were attributed to local tobacco control efforts, the pharmacy industry’s self-regulation of tobacco sales, and an increase in the state’s tobacco retailer registration fee.
The study also found that the number of tobacco retailers in the community remained high, with more than 16 retailers per 10,000 population, and that there was a high rate of store ownership turnover, with only one-third of stores that sold tobacco in 2003 continuing to do so with the same owner in 2015. The authors suggest that a moratorium on new tobacco retailer registrations could be an effective part of a multi-pronged policy strategy to reduce tobacco availability and advertising in the community.
Overall, the study highlights the need for continued efforts to reduce tobacco availability and advertising in order to reduce the impact of smoking on public health. The authors note that previous research has shown that the frequency of visiting convenience and corner grocery stores that sell tobacco is positively associated with the odds of ever smoking and the risk of smoking initiation among youth. They also point out that point-of-sale tobacco advertising has been linked to illegal tobacco purchases by underage youth, and that both youth and adult smoking is positively associated with densities of tobacco retailers in the neighborhood where they live. In addition, proximity to tobacco retail outlets has been found to trigger stronger urges to smoke and reduce the likelihood of smoking cessation by adult smokers.
Hosler AS, Done DH, Michaels IH, Guarasi DC, Kammer JR. Longitudinal trends in tobacco availability, tobacco advertising, and ownership changes of food stores, albany, new york, 2003-2015. Prev Chronic Dis. 2016;13:E62.