Tobacco availability and point of sale marketing in demographically contrasting districts of Massachusetts

Tob Control. 2002 Jun;11 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):ii71-3. doi: 10.1136/tc.11.suppl_2.ii71.


Objective: To assess the prevalence and characteristics of tobacco sales and point-of-sale promotions and advertising in predominantly Latino business districts, and in comparison districts; and the economic importance of tobacco sales and marketing to Latino owned small businesses.

Design: Observational surveys of retail establishments and interviews with store managers.

Setting: Demographically contrasting business districts of eastern Massachusetts.

Main outcome measures: Percentage of businesses selling tobacco, numbers and characteristics of exterior and interior tobacco advertisements per store, merchant reports of promotional allowances received from tobacco distributors.

Results: The proportion of businesses selling tobacco, and hence having storefront tobacco advertising, is strongly negatively correlated with per capita income in the census tracts where businesses are located (Spearman's rho = -0.794, p = 0.006). Mentholated brands are marketed disproportionately in low income, urban communities. Latino merchants are highly dependent on tobacco sales, but would require relatively modest compensation to forego tobacco promotional allowances.

Conclusions: Storefront tobacco advertising is far more prevalent in predominantly minority, low income communities than in non-minority, higher income communities, principally because of the differing mix of kinds of businesses in the two types of communities, and the greater prevalence of tobacco vendors in lower income neighbourhoods. Tobacco companies obtain this advertising at little cost.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising* / economics
  • Demography
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts
  • Tobacco Industry / economics
  • Tobacco*