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!
E-Cigarettes and Vape Shops
- A Patchy Prohibition: Product and flavour substitution after the FDA’s prioritized enforcement policy on flavored e-cigarettes, Nicotine & Tobacco Research
- This study analyzed e-cigarette sales data from March 2017-December 2021 to assess the impact of the FDA’s policy banning the sale of pre-filled cartridge/pod-based e-cigarettes in flavors other than menthol and tobacco. Researchers found that the FDA’s enforcement action was “associated with a sharp initial decrease in prefilled pod dollar sales, followed by a steady increase from April 2020 through the end of 2021, growing beyond the previous maximum in August 2019.” They also found that while sales of mint-flavored pods decreased, sales data indicated a clear substitution of menthol flavor, with a similar size increase in sales of menthol-flavored pods. Sales data also showed a substitution of disposable flavored e-cigarettes, as, “disposable products sales increased nearly ten-fold from July 2019 to July 2020 before stabilizing, dominated by fruit-flavored products.” These findings highlight the need for more comprehensive regulation of flavored e-cigarettes.
- Learn more about e-cigarettes at the point of sale.
- Underage sales signage in vape shops: Comparison of stores near and far from California colleges, Journal of American College Health
- This study assessed compliance with California-mandated age-of-sale signage, age of entry signs, and the tobacco industry’s “We Card” sign at a random sample of 614 vape shops between June-August 2019. They found that 69.4% of vape shops displayed the state-mandated age-of-sale sign. Vape-only stores were less likely to display the age-of-sale sign than stores that also sold other tobacco products but were more likely to display an age-of-entry sign. However, researchers found that, “this difference was greater for vape-only stores near community colleges and attenuated for vape-only stores near 4-year universities/colleges.” In addition, nearly half of vape-only stores displayed the “We Card” sign, despite typically trying to distance themselves from Big Tobacco. Signage was also less common at vape shops with the highest proportion of Hispanic residents.
Point-of-Sale Pricing Policies
- Financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and increased receipt of commercial tobacco discount coupons among US adults who use commercial tobacco, Tobacco Control
- This study surveyed a nationally representative sample of US adults who had used commercial tobacco in the past year about their receipt of coupons for commercial tobacco products during the COVID-19 pandemic and about their financial hardship. They found that during the first 10-11 months of the pandemic, 21.3% of participants reported receiving more discount coupons than prior to the pandemic. In addition, the greater financial hardship participants reported, the more likely they were to have received coupons for commercial tobacco products, which researchers conclude may indicate potential targeted marketing by the tobacco industry.
- News story: People experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic report receiving more commercial tobacco discount coupons, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
- Learn more about prohibiting redemption of coupons and other discounts on tobacco.
- Noticing people, discounts and non-tobacco flavours in e-cigarette ads may increase e-cigarette product appeal among non-tobacco-using young adults, Tobacco Control
- This study surveyed young adults ages 18-29 who did not use tobacco in 2021 about areas of e-cigarette advertisements that drew their attention and about the appeal of the e-cigarettes products featured in each advertisement. They found that when young adults noticed people, discounts, non-tobacco flavors, positive experience claims, or product images, they were more likely to find the e-cigarette appealing. In addition, when they noticed discounts or mint/fruit flavors, they were more likely to be interested in using e-cigarettes. When people noticed nicotine warnings or smoking cessation claims, they were less likely to find the product appealing.
- Learn more about e-cigarettes at the point of sale.
- Industry watch: Emergence and growth of ‘natural’ cigars in the USA, Tobacco Control
- This study used Nielsen sales data to assess the change in prevalence of cigars with a “natural” descriptor. Researchers found that, “the market share for cigars with a ‘natural’ descriptor increased from 22.3% in 2017 to 33.9% in 2021. During this same period, the number of unique cigar products sold with a ‘natural’ descriptor increased from 342 to 467, while products without ‘natural’ descriptors decreased from 2693 to 2410.” They note that this is concerning because the word “natural” has been found to mislead consumers to believe that tobacco products with that descriptor are less harmful than other tobacco products.
- Changes in Pack Features Among Top-Selling Cigarettes in the U.S., 2018 and 2021, American Journal of Preventive Medicine
- This study examined changes in the features of the 50 top selling cigarette packs in U.S. convenience stores between 2018 and 2021. They found that packs with a red dominant color decreased in popularity while packs with a green dominant color increased in popularity, which is consistent with a rise in sales of menthol cigarettes. The descriptors “fresh” and “flavor” both decreased in popularity, while language about rewards programs and other promotions increased.
- Learn more about restricting tobacco product packaging.
- Place-based inequities in cigarette smoking across the USA, Tobacco Control
- An analysis of data from the Population Level Analysis and Community Estimates (PLACES) that estimates smoking prevalence in all census tracts across the United States showed that inequities in smoking prevalence rates were greater within states than between states, and inequities within states were also greater among states with lower smoking prevalences.
New Reports and Resources
- Menthol Ban: Highlighting the Facts & Rebutting Tobacco Industry Misinformation, Public Health Law Center
- FDA Center for Tobacco Products Strategic Plan, FDA
- Swedish Match pursues renewal of premarket tobacco product status, Winston-Salem Journal
- Shareholder resolution calls for tobacco company to pay to clean up plastic cigarette filter litter, WasteDive
- Juul submits PMTA for next generation menthol pod, Vaping360
POS Policy in the Media
Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products
- Biden administration delays ban on menthol cigarettes until 2024, NBC News
- WHO calls for ban on flavored vapes, The Hill
- [ME] Falmouth Town Council bans sale of flavored tobacco products, WMTW8 8
- [ME] Hallowell councilors give initial approval to flavored tobacco ban, Central Maine.com
- [MI] Menthol, apple and other tobacco flavors could soon be banned in Michigan, MLive.com
- [OH] Ohio House votes to override Gov. DeWine’s veto of bill to prohibit flavored tobacco bans, Cincinnati.com
- [OR] Flavored tobacco ban for Multnomah County set to start on Jan. 1, Oregon Capital Chronicle
Licensing, Zoning, and Retailer Density
- [MN] St. Paul City Council votes to cut number of tobacco licenses, ban tobacco vending machines, KSTP-TV
- St. Albans Store Owner removes tobacco ads near school, My Champlain Valley
Point of Sale Pricing Policies
- [MN] Minneapolis wants to take the ‘lounge’ out of its last cigar lounge, Star Tribune
Other Federal Regulation
- Biden administration urges court to allow graphic warning labels for cigarettes, Reuters
- FDA seizes 1.5 million illegal vaping products, including Elf Bar, U.S. News & World Report
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!