New Research: A Comparison of Three Policy Approaches for Tobacco Retailer Reduction

Licensing, Pharmacies, Retailer Density, Stores Near Schools, Youth

Durham Store Density and Racial CompositionA recent study published in Preventive Medicine examined the relative effectiveness of three different policies in reducing the number and density of tobacco retailers in NC:

  1. Prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies or stores with a pharmacy counter,
  2. Restricting sales of tobacco products within 1000 ft of schools, and
  3. Regulating to 500ft the minimum allowable distance between tobacco outlets.

Based on estimations using both state and county level lists of tobacco retailers in NC, all three policies were found to substantially reduce tobacco retailer density – by 13.9%-22.1% at the state level and 13.1%-28.1% at the county level.  By itself, a minimum allowable distance policy would reduce density by 22.1%. If implemented together, bans on tobacco sales in pharmacies and near schools would reduce density by over 29% at both the state and county level.

Which policy should my community implement?

Implementing any of these three policies can substantially reduce the number and density of tobacco retailers. The best policy for your community is the one that will be most feasible to pass and implement and would have the most political support. Learn more about public opinion surveys.

Why does tobacco retailer density matter?

A greater number of tobacco retailers in a given area makes it easier to find tobacco products, which can curb quit attempts and lead to higher smoking rates. Greater retailer density also means greater exposure to tobacco industry point of sale advertising, marketing, and promotions, and the pervasive presence of tobacco perpetuates social norms about tobacco use.

What now?