Objective: Research examining marketing and availability of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) within tobacco retail stores is limited, especially among vulnerable communities. However, tobacco retailers tend to be the first point of access to e-cigarette exposure, especially among youth. In response, store observations were conducted among tobacco retailers across five ethnically diverse, low-income communities.
Design: Trained community health workers recorded the presence of e-cigarette products, marketing, self-service displays, product pricing and product placement in the tobacco retail environment across American-Indian Tribal lands in California (n=96) and low-income African-American, Hispanic/Latino (HL), Korean-American (KA) and Non-Hispanic White (NHW) communities in Southern California (n=679) from January 2016 to January 2017. Store characteristics and pricing were analysed by ethnic community.
Results: Compared with retailers in NHW communities, retailers across all other communities were less likely to sell e-cigarette and flavoured e-cigarette products and were less likely to have self-service displays. Compared with retailers in NHW communities, retailers across all other communities were less likely to have e-cigarettes placed near youth-friendly items, while retailers in KA and HL communities were less likely to have exterior advertising compared with retailers in NHW communities.
Conclusions: Findings indicate differences in e-cigarette availability and marketing by ethnic community. In addition, placement of products and marketing that expose youth to e-cigarette and other tobacco products within the retail environment should be restricted and regulated by policymakers and tobacco regulatory agencies to reduce the burden of tobacco-related diseases among vulnerable populations.
Keywords: advertising and promotion; disparities; electronic cigarettes; socioeconomic status.
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