July 2022 News and Research Roundup

Disparities, E-Cigarettes, Flavors (including Menthol), Licensing, Little cigars/Cigarillos, Minimum pack size, Minimum price, Product Availability, Tobacco21, Youth

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

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products 

  • Trends in unit sales of cooling flavoured e-cigarettes, USA, 2017-2021, Tobacco Control 
    • display of e-cigarettes with flavors like "lush ice" and "banana ice"Flavored e-cigarettes have high youth appeal, lead to greater nicotine dependence, and heighten tobacco use for youth and young adults. This study assessed the retail sales of e-cigarettes with cooling flavors from January 2017 to November 2021 in the U.S. These cooling flavors, characterized as producing a cooling sensation, included menthol, ice, cool, chill, freeze, or frost, and came in the forms of prefilled cartridges, disposables, and e-liquids. Researchers acquired retail sales data from Information Resources Inc. for 48 continental states based on multiple store types such as convenience stores and grocery stores. During the study period, the percentage of unit sales of cooling flavored e-cigarettes increased, and the percentage of total sales doubled from 26.4% to 54.9%. The percentage of sales of non-menthol cooling flavored disposables increased the most of all flavor and product types, from 5.2% to 99.2% over the 5 years. While menthol remains the predominant cooling flavor, its sales decreased from 94.5% to 73.0% over the study period. These results show the need for addressing all cooling flavors with the growing market of non-menthol cooling flavored products, especially in disposables, redefining what is included as characterizing flavors, and making sure certain product types like menthol e-cigarettes are not excluded from flavored tobacco product restrictions.
    • News story: New CDC Foundation Study Finds Increases in Cooling Flavored E-cigarette Sales, CDC Foundation 
  • Impact of Massachusetts’ Statewide Sales Restriction on Flavored and Menthol Tobacco Products on Tobacco Sales in Massachusetts and Surrounding States, June 2020, American Journal of Public Health
    • Massachusetts became the first state to implement a statewide law to restrict sales of flavored tobacco products in June 2020. This research evaluates the effects of this law on tobacco sales since implementation. The evaluation shows high retailer compliance with the law and notable decreases in sales of flavored tobacco products for consumers. In comparison to sales in states without a flavor ban, sales of flavored tobacco products in Massachusetts decreased more due to this policy. Restrictions such as this one in Massachusetts are effective in reducing tobacco sales and resulting tobacco use rates.  
    • Learn more about flavored tobacco product restrictions.

Tobacco 21

  • Evaluation of Restrictions on Tobacco Sales to Youth Younger Than 21 Years in Cleveland, Ohio, Area, JAMA
    • This study evaluated the associations between the Tobacco 21 policy and outcomes among youth in the city of Cleveland, OH. Survey data from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Youth Risk Behavior Survey provided a comparison of youth tobacco use rates for Cleveland before and after implementation of the city’s Tobacco 21 policy to neighboring suburbs in the same county without Tobacco 21 policies. Cleveland implemented their Tobacco 21 policy in April 2016. The pre-policy period from 2013 to 2015 and post-policy period from 2017 to 2019 provided a further method of analysis. The findings showed a decline in cigar use among high school students in Cleveland from 19.8% in 2013 to 16.8% 2019, a greater decline than among students in other suburbs without Tobacco 21 policies. Rates in cigarette and e-cigarette use also declined pre and post policy. A substantial reduction in disparities among racial and ethnic populations occurred across all tobacco product use types among Cleveland high school students. These results show the importance of Tobacco 21 laws, and specifically evaluating outcomes of these polices among different racial and ethnic populations of youth, not just youth overall.

Minimum Pack Size + Pricing Policies 

  • Tobacco minimum packaging policy to reduce cigarillo use among young people: results of an experimental study, Tobacco Control 
    • ad for 2-packs of cigarillos for 99 centsThis study the effect of cigarillo package sizes and prices on young adult intention to purchase and use the products. Researchers collected and analyzed data from a total of 1,032 young adults aged 18-30 years old who reported smoking cigarillos in the past 12 months. The results showed higher intention to buy and smoke lower-priced single-packaged cigarillos and two packs compared with high-priced five packs of cigarillos. However, participants showed a preference for larger pack sizes when the pricing was standardized per cigar, whereas they preferred smaller pack sizes when presented with the actual prices. Study conclusions show minimum pack size policies that also consider price, such as setting a floor price, may reduce the desirability of products like cigarillos, and that policies should address pack size and pricing together.
    • Learn more about strategies like minimum pack sizes.

Tobacco Marketing at the Point of Sale 

  • Youth tobacco and cannabis use and co-use: Associations with daily exposure to tobacco marketing within activity spaces and by travel patterns, Addictive Behaviors
    • This study assesses youth exposure to tobacco retail marketing and its effect on tobacco and cannabis co-use. 100 participants aged 16-20 years old from 8 California cities completed daily surveys through their smartphones, and their travel patterns were tracked via GPS, including the amount of time participants were within 50m of tobacco retail outlets each day. Tobacco retail outlets were identified based on their outdoor tobacco advertising. On a daily basis, participants reported tobacco and cannabis use, whether they saw tobacco advertisements, and how much time they traveled by different modes of transportation and with other people like parents/guardians and friends. In regression models, perceived exposure to tobacco marketing was associated with co-use of tobacco and cannabis on a given day, and this was especially true among youth who walked, biked, and skated more. These findings show the importance of understanding the day-to-day activities of youth, knowing where and how youth travel (such as near tobacco retail outlets), and the association of these behaviors and exposures with tobacco product use.
    • News Story: New Study Links Tobacco Marketing to Use Amongst Youth, Vaping Post

Health Equity

  • Centering equity in flavored tobacco ban policies: Implications for tobacco control researchers, Preventive Medicine 
    • This commentary describes how and why tobacco control researchers should center equity in flavored tobacco product restrictions to help achieve equitable outcomes. The authors recommend partnering and agenda-setting with communities, examining policy language for exemptions, determining the reach of policy on different populations, and assessing the equitable nature of policy implementation and enforcement. Examining the entire policy process through an equity lens, including policy formulation, adoption, enforcement, and evaluation is important to enhancing equitable outcomes from flavored tobacco product policies.
  • Centering racial justice for Black/African American and Indigenous American people in commercial tobacco product regulation, Preventive Medicine
    • This study addresses how existing federal commercial tobacco policies may reinforce racism and affect certain populations like African Americans and Indigenous people. The study authors assert that policies that don’t address targeted marketing from the tobacco industry, the exemption of menthol from the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, and the lack of flavor tobacco product restrictions on cigars are limitations that need addressing. They provide a set of recommendations to address these gaps including examining tobacco control policies with an equity lens, holding institutions like the FDA more accountable, increasing representation of minorities in tobacco regulatory science, and providing more culturally-sensitive training about minority communities. When policy, people, and products are not fully accounted for using health equity as the basis, there is an increased risk of tobacco use among different groups and more inequitable outcomes.  
    • News story: New research calls for a health equity lens in commercial tobacco product regulation, University of Minnesota School of Public Health

Industry News

POS Policy in the Media

Tobacco Retailer Licensing

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products


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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