Objective: To elucidate how demographics of US Census tracts are related to tobacco outlet density (TOD).
Method: The authors conducted a nationwide assessment of the association between socio-demographic US Census indicators and the density of tobacco outlets across all 64,909 census tracts in the continental USA. Retail tobacco outlet addresses were determined through North American Industry Classification System codes, and density per 1000 population was estimated for each census tract. Independent variables included urban/rural; proportion of the population that was black, Hispanic and women with low levels of education; proportion of families living in poverty and median household size.
Results: In a multivariate analysis, there was a higher TOD per 1000 population in urban than in rural locations. Furthermore, higher TOD was associated with larger proportions of blacks, Hispanics, women with low levels of education and with smaller household size. Urban-rural differences in the relation between demographics and TOD were found in all socio-demographic categories, with the exception of poverty, but were particularly striking for Hispanics, for whom the relation with TOD was 10 times larger in urban compared with rural census tracts.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that tobacco outlets are more concentrated in areas where people with higher risk for negative health outcomes reside. Future studies should examine the relation between TOD and smoking, smoking cessation, as well as disease rates.
Keywords: GIS; Smoking; density; disparities; high-risk populations; tobacco.