September 2020 News and Research Roundup

Cigarettes, Disparities, E-Cigarettes, Flavors (including Menthol), Health Warnings, Licensing, Non-Tax Price Increases, Product Availability, Retailer Density, Tobacco21, 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

  • Modelling the impact of menthol sales restrictions and retailer density reduction policies: Insights from tobacco town Minnesota, Tobacco Control
    • Using modeling simulations, researchers examined the impact of various point-of-sale policies on the direct costs (i.e. purchasing price) and indirect costs (i.e. travel costs, opportunity costs) of purchasing cigarettes, which, in turn, affect purchasing behaviors and tobacco use. They found that, of all the policies they tested, restricting sales of all cigarettes or just menthol cigarettes to tobacco specialty stores could have the largest impact on cigarette purchasing costs, though coupling this policy with others, like establishing a minimum distance between tobacco retailers, could further maximize the effectiveness and impact. The researchers also highlighted the importance of context when implementing point-of-sale policies; for instance, low income, urban communities, which tend to have higher rates of retailer density, may need multiple, stronger policies to equitably impact cigarette purchasing costs. Learn more about point-of-sale policy solutions and health equity in point-of-sale tobacco control.
  • Changes in flavor preference in a cohort of long-term electronic cigarette users, Annals of the American Thoracic Society
    • In this longitudinal study, 383 US adults who reported e-cigarette use were surveyed at baseline (2012-2014) and follow-up (2017-2019) to assess changes in e-cigarette flavor preference. 40% of the participants reported a preference for tobacco, menthol, or mint flavored e-cigarettes at baseline, though, at follow-up, only 22% reported a preference for these flavors. Preference for fruit-flavored e-cigarettes hovered around 23% at both baseline and follow-up. However, preference for chocolate, candy, and other ‘sweets’ flavors increased drastically from 16% at baseline to 29% at follow-up. This change in preference to sweet flavors was much more pronounced in younger participants (ages 18-45) as well as participants who only used e-cigarettes, compared to participants who used e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. As well, the researchers found that nearly half of participants stated they would ‘find a way’ to purchase their preferred flavor or would mix flavoring agents to create their preferred flavor if flavored e-cigarette products were banned by the FDA. Learn more about flavored tobacco products at the point of sale
    • News story: US study assess flavour use patterns in long-term e-cigarette users,


POS Advertising, Marketing & Promotions



  • Boosting the Tobacco Control Vaccine: Recognizing the role of the retail environment in addressing tobacco use and disparities, Tobacco Control
    • This article recognizes the retail environment as one of the primary places the tobacco industry promotes and markets its products, and highlights how population-level strategies to target these industry tactics in the retail environment could reduce smoking and tobacco-related health inequities across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines. With a deep dive into five point-of-sale tobacco control strategies (availability; pricing and promotion; advertising and display; age of sale; and retail licensure), this commentary evidences the importance of focusing on the tobacco retail environment when designing and implementing a comprehensive approach to tobacco prevention and control. Learn more about point-of-sale policy options
  • Disparities in the prevalence of cigarette smoking among bisexual people: A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression, Tobacco Control
    • With data pulled from a total of 47 studies between 1995 and 2019, researchers found that individuals that identified as bisexual were 1.25 times as likely to report lifetime smoking, 1.17 times as likely to report past 30 day smoking, and 1.19 times as likely to report current smoking, compared to individuals that identified as lesbian or gay. Individuals that identified as bisexual were also 2.18 times as like to report lifetime smoking, 2.48 times as likely to report past 30 day smoking, and 2.26 times as likely to report current smoking compared to individuals that identified as heterosexual. Women who identified as bisexual had the greatest magnitude of cigarette smoking prevalence compared to all other sexual orientation/gender subpopulations. Learn more about disparities at the point of sale that impact inequities in tobacco use.
  • How much progress have we made? Trends in disparities in tobacco use, Preventing Chronic Disease
    • This article spotlights the persistence of disparities in tobacco use in Minnesota across education, income, and race despite significant efforts in tobacco control like comprehensive smoke-free laws and increased tobacco taxes. The findings highlight the need for more equity-informed and equity-focused policies and strategies to reduce disparities in tobacco use and tobacco-related harms. Learn more about health equity in point-of-sale tobacco control.


E-Cigarettes/Vape Shops

  • Changes in knowledge, perceptions and use of JUUL among a cohort of young adults, Tobacco Control
    • In this study, over 1,800 young adults were surveyed in the spring and fall of 2018. Over the course of these six months, both ever and current use of JUUL doubled, from 5.9% to 12.7% of participants reporting ever use and 1.6% to 3.4% reporting current use. As well, during just this six month window, reported exposure to JUUL advertising significantly increased from 31.8% to 46.4% of participants. Participants who reported exposure to JUUL advertising had significantly increased odds of current JUUL use at follow-up during the fall. On the other hand, participants who perceived JUUL as being “as or more harmful” than cigarettes and participants who self-reported as former or never cigarette smokers had significantly lower odds of JUUL use at follow-up. Also of note, though at follow-up there was an increase in the number of participants who recognized that JUUL pods have “as much or more nicotine than a pack of cigarettes”, over half of the sample was still “not sure” of the nicotine content in JUUL pods. Learn more about e-cigarettes at the point of sale and restrictions on product advertising.
  • “It’s really addictive and I’m trapped:” A qualitative analysis of the reasons for quitting vaping among treatment-seeking young people, Addictive Behaviors
    • Researchers examined reasons for quitting vaping in 1,000 youth (ages 13-17) and 1,000 young adults (18-24). Half of participants reported quitting for health reasons (e.g. “I want my lungs back”). Other commonly reported reasons for quitting included financial costs (e.g. “I don’t have enough money to feed my addiction”), freedom from addiction (e.g. “It’s [vaping] taking over my life), and influence on social spheres (e.g. “It’s affecting my friendships”). These findings show the detrimental effects vaping has on youth and young adults and their motivations for quitting. Learn more about e-cigarettes at the point of sale and non-tax-based strategies to increase e-cigarette prices.


Health Warnings and Labeling


Tobacco 21





  • Exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic by e-cigarette marketers, Tobacco Control
    • Researchers examined COVID-19-related marketing across e-cigarette brand and vape
      Images pulled from article

      store websites and social media accounts. At time of publication, they had collected over 300 COVID-19-themed e-cigarette promotional images, representing 21 e-cigarette brands and 41 online vaping stores. These images included promotions such as a receiving a free essential supply with a vaping purchase (e.g. hand sanitizer, toilet paper, or face mask with purchase of a vaping product) and pandemic-themed discounts (e.g. promo codes such as “stayhome” and discounts for “frontline medical staff”). Many vape shops and e-cigarette brands also framed vaping as an activity that could be done safely at home and touted the risks between vaping and COVID-19 as “misinformation” and “myth”. Moreover, one brand even advertised that their products would help alleviate pandemic-related stress and anxiety. Learn more about restrictions on product advertising and promotions.

    • News story: Vaping ad tactics ‘exploited’ the pandemic, study says, CNN Health




Industry News 


POS Policy in the Media


Tobacco 21

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products

Tobacco Retailer Licenses


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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