August 2020 News and Research Roundup

Cigarettes, Disparities, E-Cigarettes, FDA, Flavors (including Menthol), Health Warnings, Licensing, Price Promotions, Product Availability, Retailer Density, Tobacco21, Vape Shops, Youth

Welcome to’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 

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products

  • Local sales restrictions significantly reduce the availability of menthol tobacco: Findings from four Minnesota cities, Tobacco Control
    • St. Paul, Duluth, Minneapolis, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota were some of the first cities to restrict the sale of menthol tobacco products to adult-only stores. Using store audits of approximately 300 tobacco retailers, this study assessed changes in the availability and marketing of menthol products from before and after policy implementation in these four cities, as well as six comparison cities without a menthol policy. Researchers found that compliance with the menthol restriction was extremely high in the four cities, with Falcon Heights having a 100% compliance rate. In contrast, all tobacco retailers in the comparison cities, as well as 96% of the exempted tobacco stores in the four cities with the restriction, sold menthol tobacco products. Researchers noted that two retailers in Minneapolis created adult-only sections of their stores to continue to sell menthol products. Additionally, after the policy was implemented, retailers in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth all exhibited a significant reduction in menthol tobacco marketing on the interior of stores, while only retailers in Duluth had a decrease in menthol tobacco marketing on the exterior of stores. These findings highlight the impact a menthol restriction has on the availability and advertising of menthol tobacco products. Learn more about menthol products and restrictions on product availability.
  • Assessment of menthol and nonmenthol cigarette consumption in the US, 2000 to 2018, JAMA Network Open
    • This study measured consumption of menthol and nonmenthol cigarettes from 2000 to 2018. During this time period, cigarette consumption declined by 46%; however, this decline was significantly greater for nonmenthol cigarettes than menthol cigarettes, with 85% of the total decline being attributed to nonmenthol cigarettes. This rate was even more drastic since the passing of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which exempted menthol from a ban on flavored cigarettes. Between 2009 and 2018, 91% of the decline in cigarette consumption could be attributed to nonmenthol cigarettes. These findings suggest that allowing menthol cigarettes to remain on the market may be hindering public health gains in reducing cigarette smoking. Learn more about menthol products and restrictions on product availability.
  • “Because there’s just something about that menthol”: Exploring African American smokers’ perspectives on menthol smoking and local menthol sales restrictions, Nicotine & Tobacco Research
    • In this study, 27 African American adults from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, 96% of whom smoked Newport cigarettes, were interviewed in 2017 to explore smoking behaviors and perceptions of local menthol policies. The researchers found that the majority of participants perceived menthol cigarettes to be more harmful than non-menthol cigarettes and also recognized that African American/Black individuals and communities had been targeted with menthol products by the industry. Perceptions on local menthol policies varied with some individuals being ‘receptive’ and others viewing the policies as ‘unfair’; however, the researchers generally determined that there was an overall lack of understanding about the impact these policies had, especially on the African American/Black community. The researchers concluded that greater awareness, education, and support, especially for the most impacted populations like African American/Black communities, should surround menthol policies. Learn more about menthol products and the industry’s targeting of Black communities.

POS Advertising, Marketing & Promotions

  • Tobacco product promotions remain ubiquitous and are associated with use and susceptibility to use among adolescents, Nicotine & Tobacco Research
    • Over 1,000 adolescents, ages 13 to 17, were surveyed in 2019 to assess ever and current smoking and vaping behaviors as well as exposure to tobacco product promotions. In this sample, 34% of participants had ever used a tobacco product and 20% currently used a tobacco product. Additionally, 91% of participants had seen a cigarette promotion in the past 30 days and 80% had seen an e-cigarette promotion in the past 30 days; the majority of these promotions were seen at the point of sale, on television or in movies, and on social media. Greater exposure to tobacco product promotions was significantly associated with ever and current cigarette and e-cigarette use, and, among never-users, was associated with susceptibility to e-cigarette use. Additional factors that were associated with increased use and susceptibility to use were family and peer use, as well as attitudes towards these products. Learn more about commercial tobacco marketing and advertising at the point of sale.  


  • Widening disparities in cigarette smoking by race/ethnicity across education level in the United States, Preventive Medicine
    • This study, using data from nine Tobacco Use Supplements to the Current Population Surveys between 1992 and 2018, found disparities in tobacco use and inequities in tobacco control across racial and ethnic lines as well as educational level. Across all races and ethnicities, lower educational attainment was correlated with increased ever and current smoking prevalence. Within each racial and ethnic category, education-level disparities widened over time, with the gap in current and ever use between those with the lowest level of educational attainment (less than high school) and highest level of attainment (college graduate) being largest for African Americans and non-Hispanic Whites, compared to Hispanics. Over this time period, college graduates of all racial/ethnic groups had the highest quit rates, with these rates rising over time for Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites, but not for African Americans. The researchers also documented more progress in tobacco control for non-Hispanic Whites. Learn more about disparities.
  • Evaluating how licensing-law strategies will impact disparities in tobacco retailer density: A simulation in Ohio, Tobacco Control
    • This study simulated the potential impact of four licensing-law strategies (1- capping the number of retailers, 2- declustering retailers, 3- school-based regulations like restricting tobacco sales near schools, and 4- pharmacy bans) using over 11,000 retailers in Ohio. The researchers found that the most impactful licensing strategy varied and depended on the type of community. For instance, school-based strategies were most equitable for urban, lower-income, and predominately Black and African-American neighborhoods, whereas capping-based strategies were most equitable for rural neighborhoods. Pharmacy bans demonstrated inequitable impacts. The researchers concluded that, since policies may potentially reduce inequities or heighten disparities, policymakers should take into consideration a community’s unique characteristics and context when determining licensing strategies. As evidenced by their simulation, with the appropriate strategy, high risk communities have the capability to reduce their tobacco retailers by over 20%. Learn more about licensing and other policy solutions.

E-Cigarettes/Vape Shops

  • Is vaping better than smoking cigarettes?, European Heart Journal
    • This article provides answers to frequently asked questions about e-cigarettes, like whether vaping is as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. The authors ultimately conclude that, while switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes reduces risk of harm and may improve attempts at smoking cessation, evidence about the population-level consequences of e-cigarettes remains severely limited. Given the incomplete understanding of the long-term health and population-level effects of e-cigarettes and the potential for these products to addict a new and younger generation, the authors suggest that strict regulations of these products be put in place. Learn more about e-cigarettes and policy solutions.
  • Vape shop owners/managers’ opinions about FDA regulation of e-cigarettes, Nicotine & Tobacco Research
    • During the summer of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] began implementing regulations such as minimum age verification, bans on sampling products, and requirements of health warnings. At this time, researchers interviewed 45 vape shop owners/managers from six cities (Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, San Diego, and Seattle) about their businesses and their perceptions about the FDA regulations. On the whole, vape shop owners/managers discussed starting their businesses with positive intentions for their customers in mind and training their staff to fully adhere to any regulations. Despite this, many owner/managers indicated significant concerns related to the impact of the FDA regulations. Concerns included, but were not limited to, financial repercussions of the regulations (especially for smaller businesses), challenges understanding and interpreting the regulations, a lack of evidence supporting the regulations, and negative impacts on customer experiences. These concerns should be considered when educating retailers on new regulations and assessing compliance. Learn more about e-cigarettes at the point of sale.
  • The road to vaping: E-cigarette susceptibility and curiosity among U.S. adolescents susceptible and nonsusceptible to cigarette smoking, Health Education & Behavior
    • Using data from the 2018 U.S. National Youth Tobacco Survey, this study of nearly 13,500 adolescent never cigarette or e-cigarette users attempted to identify factors associated with e-cigarette susceptibility and curiosity. Among adolescents susceptible to cigarette use, non-Hispanic Black participants were significantly less likely to be susceptible to or curious about e-cigarettes, compared to non-Hispanic Whites. Among adolescents not susceptible to cigarette use, Hispanic participants were significantly more likely to be susceptible to and curious about e-cigarettes. Among all adolescents in the study (both those susceptible to and not susceptible to cigarette use), participants who identified as female, were exposed to e-cigarette emissions in public places, were exposed to e-cigarette ads at the point of sale, and had low perceived harm and addictiveness of e-cigarettes compared to cigarettes had greater odds of susceptibility to and curiosity about e-cigarettes. Learn more about e-cigarettes.
  • E-cigarette availability, price promotions and marketing at the point-of-sale in the contiguous United States (2014-2015): National estimates and multilevel correlates, Preventative Medicine Reports
    • Using a national sample of roughly 2,000 tobacco retailers each year, this study analyzed changes in e-cigarettes at the point of sale between 2014 and 2015. In 2014, 72.0% of the retailers in the sample sold e-cigarettes, with this number increasing to 79.2% by the following year; the largest increase in e-cigarette availability during this time frame was at dollar stores and supermarkets. Price promotions at these retailers also increased from 11.9% of retailers offering price promotions in 2014 to 20.2% in 2015. A greater proportion of new e-cigarette retailers was found in neighborhoods with predominately Black residents. Additionally, e-cigarette price promotions were most prevalent in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods and exterior e-cigarette advertisements were most prevalent in predominately Black neighborhoods. In states with a higher smoking prevalence, more stores sold, promoted, and advertised e-cigarettes. While the data is slightly outdated from 2014 and 2015 given the rapidly changing e-cigarette product and regulatory landscape, this study offers great insight into various point-of-sale strategies being used, and ramped up, in the retail environment. Learn more about e-cigarettes at the point of sale.
  • Intention to quit vaping among United States adolescents, JAMA Pediatrics
    • Using data from Wave 4 of the PATH survey, researchers sampled 500 youth, aged 12 to 17, who had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days to examine quitting intentions and past e-cigarette quit attempts. Roughly 45% of the sample reported seriously thinking about quitting, with 50% reporting wanting to do so within the next month. 25% of the sample had reported a quit attempt within the past year. Intention to quit and quit attempts were similar across a variety of subgroups including sex, race, and household income. Learn more about e-cigarettes.
    • News story: Nearly half of U.S. teens who vape want to quit, U.S. News & World Report
  • The effects of traditional cigarette and e-cigarette tax rates on adult tobacco product use, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty
    • Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and National Health Interview Study from 2011 to 2018, this study looked at the effects of increased cigarette and e-cigarette taxes on rates of adult use. The researchers found that, when taxes were raised on cigarettes, cigarette use declined but e-cigarette use increased; a similar pattern occurred when e-cigarette taxes were raised, suggesting these products are economic substitutes. The researchers also concluded that a national e-cigarette tax of $1.65 per milliliter of vaping liquid would increase the percentage of adult daily cigarette smokers by 1%, an equivalent of 2.5 million new adult daily smokers. Learn more about increasing tobacco prices.

Health Warnings and Labeling

  • Smokers’ exposure to perceived modified risk claims for e-cigarettes, snus and smokeless tobacco in the United States, Nicotine & Tobacco Research
    • Using data from individuals who self-reported smoking in Wave 3 of the PATH survey, this study found that 29.1% of participants remembered seeing “less harmful” product claims in the past 12 months on e-cigarettes, 5.1% recalled seeing such claims on snus in the past 12 months, and 5.6% recalled seeing such claims on other smokeless tobacco products in the same time frame. Recollection of these claims were highest among participants who perceived the product to be safer than cigarettes, currently used the product, and had more exposure to point-of-sale advertising. Roughly 25% of the surveyed individuals who smoked cigarettes and who recalled noticing these “less harmful” claims reported they would try one of these products in the future. Learn more about point-of-sale advertising and health warnings.







Industry News 



POS Policy in the Media


Tobacco 21

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products

Tobacco Retailer Licenses


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