Comparison of e-cigarette marketing and availability in tobacco retail outlets among diverse low-income communities in California

Tob Control. 2020 Jul;29(4):469-471. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2019-054985. Epub 2019 Jul 19.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising / methods*
  • African Americans / psychology
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • American Natives / psychology
  • American Natives / statistics & numerical data
  • Asian Americans / psychology
  • Asian Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • California
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marketing / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Supermarkets*
  • Young Adult