June 2022 News and Research Roundup

Advertising Restictions, Cigarettes, Disparities, E-Cigarettes, Flavors (including Menthol), Minimum price, Non-Tax Price Increases, Price Promotions, Product Availability, Retailer Density, Stores Near Schools, 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

Point of Sale Marketing 

  • Trends in Cigarette Marketing Expenditures, 1975-2019: An Analysis of Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Reports, Nicotine & Tobacco Research 
    • Pall Mall cigarette advertisement hanging in a store This analysis of Federal Trade Commission reporting shows fluctuations in the cigarette marketing expenditures of major tobacco companies from 1975-2019 across the seven categories of retail, print, out of home, free tobacco products and gifts, sports, public entertainment, and sponsorships, telephone and digital, and other. Spending by tobacco companies peaked in 2003, then declined until 2010, and remained stable for the years following until 2019. The greatest increase in expenditures occurred in the retail setting, accounting for about 98% out of all expenditures total in 2019. Tobacco companies reported spending a majority of their money on promotional allowances, coupons, and retail-added-value bonuses, with price discounts accounting for the most expenditures each year since 2003. These discounts lower prices, keep tobacco products cheap, and increase their accessibility to price-sensitive consumers. Restrictions on price discounting in retail stores can counter these tobacco company marketing efforts.
    • Read more about price discounting restriction strategies.
  • Spinning a global web: tactics used by Big Tobacco to attract children at tobacco points-of-sale, BMJ Tobacco Control 
    • This study presents findings from the monitoring of cigarette advertising and promotion at the point-of-sale (POS) near youth-serving venues in 42 low, middle, and high-income counties. In these 42 countries, public health professionals and volunteers mapped a list of schools and playgrounds within a 100–250m radius of retailers and completed data collection from 2015-2021 to document tobacco sales and marketing at the retailers near these youth-serving venues. Four strategies of cigarette placement near snacks, sweets, and sugary drinks; cigarette advertisements at child eye-level; flavored cigarettes; and single cigarettes (“loosies”) were highly and consistently observed at the POS across region and income level. All countries had cigarette advertisements at child eye-level, and 90% had displays of cigarettes near youth-oriented products. Cigarette brands from British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International were advertised near schools or playgrounds in nearly all of the countries. These findings show that tobacco companies are marketing to youth, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Tobacco companies deny marketing to youth, but use similar strategies across countries and promote cigarettes in retail stores around where youth frequent. The study asserts that implementing and enforcing violations of tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) laws at the POS is one way to curb the tobacco industry’s influence on youth.
    • See more about restricting product placement in retail stores.

Disparities in Tobacco Retailer Density

  • Spatially Varying Associations of Neighborhood Disadvantage with Alcohol and Tobacco Retail Outlet Rates, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 
    • store exterior with Bud Light ads as well as cigarette ads This research shows associations between tobacco and alcohol availability with a focus on the intersection of alcohol and tobacco sales in retail stores within disadvantaged areas. A novel Bayesian index model assessed the connection between the neighborhood disadvantage index (NDI) and three tobacco and alcohol retail outlet types across census tracts in North Carolina: tobacco retail outlets (TRO), alcohol retail outlets (ARO), and tobacco and alcohol retailer outlets (TARO). Results showed variation by retail outlet type, but each had a high degree of association with NDI, with disadvantaged areas that were higher on the NDI experiencing a greater neighborhood burden of alcohol and tobacco retail outlets. This was especially true in the northeastern coastal area (i.e., Outer Banks) and in southwestern North Carolina for all three outlet types. Researchers also determined that the key factors driving the disparate associations include low levels of home ownership, black racial segregation, and old housing stock. Researchers concluded that tracking and restricting access to cancer-causing products like tobacco and alcohol and the businesses that sell them, especially in communities with high risk factors, can improve population health.

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Product Regulation 

  • JUUL’s 2019 Removal of Mint-Flavored Pods and Changes to the Retail Environment of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems in Florida and the United States, Nicotine & Tobacco Research 
    • This study assessed national- and state-level electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) sales and pricing before and after JUUL’s removal of their mint-flavored e-cigarette pods through Nielson retail sales data from convenience and food stores in Florida and across the United States (US) between January 2019-January 2020. After JUUL removed their mint-flavored e-cigarette pods in November 2019, their market share and sales dropped in both Florida and the US overall, but the share of other ENDS flavor categories increased. Also following this removal, other ENDS brands including Puff Bar and Vuse rose to prominence in the market. These findings support the notion that even when tobacco companies, like JUUL, self-regulate themselves (e.g. by removing some of their products from the market), other products tend to compensate, with other brands and other flavors filling in the gap. Monitoring product sales and taking comprehensive regulatory action in response is needed to reduce ENDS sales and youth use. 
  • Public health impact of a US menthol cigarette ban on the non-Hispanic Black population: a simulation study, BMJ Tobacco Control
    • This study provides implications of how the ban on menthol cigarettes recently proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would affect the non-Hispanic Black (NHB) adult population. The Menthol Smoking and Vaping Model (SAVM) was used to estimate the public health impact of a menthol ban on NHBs, which included employing a status quo scenario (without ban) versus a menthol ban scenario. The analysis defined the public health impact from 2021-2060 of a menthol ban as the difference between smoking and vaping attributable deaths (SVADs) and life years lost (LYLs) in the status quo and the menthol ban scenarios. The menthol ban scenario resulted in an overall decline in smoking rates among NHBs by 35.7% in 2026 and 25.3% in 2060 compared to the status quo scenario. The model also showed that NHB SVADs would fall by about 18.5% and LYLs by 22.1% by 2060. This translates to 255,895 premature deaths averted and 4.0 million life years gained. Findings suggest greater impacts from a menthol cigarette ban on the NHB population than the general population in regards to reductions in smoking prevalence, averted deaths, and life-years gained. A menthol ban would thus reduce health disparities.
    • Learn more about menthol.
  • E-Cigarette Flavors, Devices, and Brands Used by Youths Before and After Partial Flavor Restrictions in the United States: Canada, England, and the United States, 2017–2020, American Journal of Public Health
    • Display of Juul, Vuse Alto, and Ciro e-cigarettes in various flavors This study examined the impact of the 2020-implemented prohibition on flavors other than menthol and tobacco in cartridge-based e-cigarettes in the U.S. compared to no such law in Canada and England. To do so, researchers analyzed cross-sectional data from the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project Youth Tobacco and Vaping Survey, which were conducted with youth aged 16 to 19 years old (n=9,512) from the U.S., Canada, and England who had vaped in the past 30-days. The surveys were administered across 5-time waves (July/August 2017, August/September 2018, August/September 2019, February/March 2020, and August 2020) to collect data before, during, and after implementation of the U.S. flavor restrictions. Participants were asked about flavors, type of e-cigarette device (i.e., disposable, cartridge/pod based, and tanks) and e-cigarette brands they used. In August 2020 (after the ban), 78.7% of vapers in the U.S., 86.3% in Canada, and 79.8% in England reported using a flavor that was prohibited in cartridges/pods but allowed in other devices. Fruit flavors were the most commonly reported usual flavor in all three countries, followed by menthol or mint. Between 2017-2019 and August 2020, disposable e-cigarette use increased across all three countries, with the most increase in the U.S. Findings suggest that youth in the U.S. still continued to use cartridge/pod products with restricted flavors after the ban, switched to brands and devices exempt from the ban, and shifted more of their use to disposable e-cigarette products. This study shows the importance of comprehensive flavor restrictions across products and flavors.
    • Learn more about flavored tobacco product restrictions.

Industry News

POS Policy in the Media 

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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