December 2023 News and Research Roundup

Advertising Restictions, Cigarettes, Disparities, E-Cigarettes, FDA, Flavors (including Menthol), Healthy Retailers, Little cigars/Cigarillos, Price Promotions, Product Availability, Product Packaging, Stores Near Schools, Vape Shops

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

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 

Product Packaging 

  • 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 

Industry News

POS Policy in the Media

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products 

Licensing, Zoning, and Retailer Density

Healthy Retail

Point of Sale Pricing Policies

Other Federal Regulation

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! is a project of Counter Tools. Counter Tools (logo)
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