Study: Smokers who live farther from tobacco stores have a better chance at quitting

Disparities, International, Product Availability, Retailer Density

A recent study from Finland adds to the evidence [1] that proximity to tobacco stores makes it harder for smokers to quit.

Research recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – Internal Medicine analyzed two longitudinal studies of over 20,000 current and ex-smokers in Finland and found that smokers who lived farther away from a tobacco outlet were more likely to successfully quit, where a 500 meter (~1/3 mile) increase in the walking distance that the smoker lived from a tobacco outlet was associated with a 20% to 60% increase in odds of quitting smoking. The median distance to a tobacco outlet was shorter (350m) in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods compared with the least disadvantaged neighborhoods (720m). Walking distance to a tobacco outlet did not appear to influence relapse for ex-smokers.

Previous research has shown that exposure to tobacco marketing encourages initiation and can derail quit attempts by cuing cravings and prompting impulse purchases, and that neighborhoods with a higher density of tobacco retailers often have higher smoking rates. While Finland banned tobacco advertising (including point of sale) in 1976, and banned displays in 2012, living near a tobacco retailer makes it easier for individuals to access tobacco by reducing travel time and costs.

Learn more about ways to limit the location and reduce the number and density of tobacco retailers.


Pulakka A, Halonen JI, Kawachi I, et al. Association Between Distance From Home to Tobacco Outlet and Smoking Cessation and Relapse. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 15, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4535.