Introduction: Evidence of a concentration of cigarette advertising in predominantly low-income, non-White neighborhoods underscores the need to examine retail marketing and promotions for novel tobacco products like little cigars and cigarillos (LCCs). We sought to investigate neighborhood racial/ethnic disparities in LCC marketing at retail, including availability, advertising, price promotions, and product placement in Los Angeles, California.
Methods: Between January 2016 and April 2017, community health workers (n = 19) conducted in-person observational audits from tobacco retail stores (n = 679) located in zip codes with a high percentage of non-Hispanic White (n = 196), Black (n = 194), Hispanic/Latino (n = 189), or Korean American (n = 100) residents. To account for clustering effect of zip codes, multilevel modeling approach for a dichotomized outcome was conducted to evaluate the association between racial/ethnic neighborhood sample and dependent variables.
Results: Stores located in zip codes with a high percentage of non-Hispanic Blacks had more than eight times higher odds of selling LCCs (OR = 8.10; 95% CI = 3.10-21.11 vs. non-Hispanic White), more than five times higher odds of selling flavored LCCs (OR = 5.20; 95% CI = 2.33-11.61 vs. non-Hispanic White), and more than six times higher odds of displaying storefront exterior LCC signage (OR = 6.03; 95% CI = 2.93-12.40 vs. non-Hispanic White). Stores in Hispanic/Latino and Korean American communities had about three times higher odds of selling LCCs (OR = 3.02; 95% CI = 1.15-7.93 vs. non-Hispanic White; OR = 2.99; 95% CI = 1.33-6.71 vs. non-Hispanic White).
Conclusions: LCCs are heavily marketed in retail establishments in Los Angeles, with disproportionate targeting of predominantly non-White neighborhoods, especially stores in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of African Americans. Local, state, and federal flavor restrictions, minimum pack size standards, preventive messages, and campaigns could counter the influence of LCC marketing in retail establishments.
Keywords: Little cigars/cigarillos; Racial/ethnic neighborhoods; Retail marketing.