April 2021 News and Research Roundup

Advertising Restictions, Cigarettes, Disparities, E-Cigarettes, Endgame, Flavors (including Menthol), Licensing, Little cigars/Cigarillos, Non-Tax Price Increases, Pharmacies, Preemption, Product Availability, Retailer Density

Welcome to CounterTobacco.org’s “News and Research Roundup!” Each month we post a summary of the latest research, reports, and news stories on counteracting tobacco product sales and marketing at the point of sale (POS). Keeping up with what’s happening in the POS movement all across the country can help you choose policies and strategies that work best for your community. New research can help provide support for your work and evidence for the importance of the “War in the Store.” Have a story you don’t want us to miss? E-mail it to us!

New Research

Tobacco Retailer Density

  • Retailer density reduction approaches to tobacco control: A review, Health & Place
    • A review of the international evidence on tobacco retailer reduction policies found “strong preliminary evidence to support certain retailer reduction policies” and that combining types of policies (e.g. a retailer cap and a prohibiting retailers near schools) is most effective. Evidence shows that policies prohibiting the sale of tobacco in pharmacies can reduce density overall but may maintain or exacerbate disparities, while prohibiting tobacco retailers near schools reduces density to a greater degree in higher-risk neighborhoods. Additional research is needed to show the long-term impact of reducing retailer density on tobacco use behaviors, which can take several years to see change.
    • Learn more about tobacco retailer density.
  • Neighborhood Inequities in Tobacco Retailer Density and the Presence of Tobacco-Selling Pharmacies and Tobacco Shops, Health Education & Behavior
    • Smoke ShopBased on 2018 list of probable tobacco retailers in the United States, researchers found that census tracts with a greater percentage of residents who are low-income had higher tobacco retailer density regardless of how density was measured (e.g. number of tobacco retailers per population, per land area, per kilometer of roadway). However, the association with density varied across types of density measures for census tracts with a higher percentage of people who are Black, Hispanic or Latino, and where there is more vacant housing. Census tracts with a greater proportion of people who are Black were less likely to have a pharmacy or a tobacco shop, while census tracks with a greater proportion of people who are low income were more likely to have a tobacco shop. These findings are important to keep in mind when considering the equity impact of retailer reduction policies.
    • Learn more about tobacco retailer density.
  • Brief report: Tobacco mythbusting – tobacco is not a major driver of foot traffic in low socio-economic small retail stores, Tobacco Control
    • This study conducted by surveying consumers outside of small stores selling tobacco in lower socioeconomic areas in Australia found that only 3% of consumers reporting purchasing tobacco as the primary reason for visiting the store and only 8% of consumers purchased any tobacco products. This shows that, contrary to industry claims, tobacco is not a key driver of consumer foot traffic for small retailers. In addition, consumers who did not purchase tobacco products made greater planned purchases of non-tobacco products and an equal amount of unplanned purchases of non-tobacco products compared to consumer who purchased tobacco. This also is in contrast to the industry claim that tobacco purchases lead to other product purchases in stores.

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products


  • E-Cigarette Use Among Youths and Young Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic: United States, 2020, AJPH
    • Comparing March 14 – June 29, 2020 following COVID-19 “stay at home” orders with the same period the previous year, researchers found that odds of current e-cigarette use were lower among youth ages 15-17 years and among young adults ages 18-20 years. People who use e-cigarettes and reported reduced access to retail environments due to the lockdowns had higher odds of reporting reduced e-cigarette use.
    • Truth Initiative article: Youth vaping declines during pandemic as young people report less retail and social access to products
  • Multi-level drivers of tobacco use and purchasing behaviors during COVID-19 “lockdown”: A qualitative study in the United States, International Journal of Drug Policy
    • Between April and May 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic “stay at home” orders, interviews with 44 adults show that tobacco use patterns varied. While most users increased use due to factors like anxiety, boredom, and irregular routines, social users decreased use. While cigarettes remained available in the retail environment, access to ENDS was limited, which led some people to purchase them online and to use cigarettes when deliveries were delayed. The authors conclude, “To mitigate ways that the COVID-19 pandemic may exacerbate an existing public health crisis, multi-level policy strategies, such as expanded virtual cessation services and implementation and enforcement of smoke-free home rules, can better support population health during this critical period. Policies that facilitate access to lower risk products can help minimize harm among those who cannot or do not want to quit smoking.”


Heated Tobacco Products

New Reports

Industry News

POS Policy in the Media

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products

Tobacco Retailer Licensing




Find more stories in last month’s News and Research Roundup.

Know of a story that we missed? Email us, and we’ll be sure to include it in next month’s roundup!


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