Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) sales and use have increased rapidly, yet point-of-sale e-cigarette availability and marketing is understudied. We estimated changes in e-cigarette availability and marketing among tobacco retailers in the U.S., and associations with neighborhood characteristics. A national sample of tobacco retailers in the Contiguous U.S. was audited in 2014 and 2015 (n = 1,905 and n = 2,126, respectively) to observe e-cigarette availability and marketing (signs, ads, displays and promotions) and generate national prevalence estimates. Store, neighborhood and state level correlates of 2015 e-cigarette availability, price promotions and exterior advertising were analyzed using multilevel mixed-effects generalized linear models. E-cigarettes were sold at 72.0% of retailers in 2014 and at 79.2% in 2015. Price promotions increased from 11.9% to 20.2% of retailers. Among retailers that did not previously sell e-cigarettes in 2012, availability in 2015 was greater for retailers in neighborhoods with the highest proportion of Black residents (vs. lowest). E-cigarette price promotions were more prevalent in neighborhoods with more Hispanic residents, while exterior e-cigarette marketing was more prevalent in neighborhoods with more Black residents. State smoking prevalence was positively associated with e-cigarette availability, promotions and advertising. E-cigarette point-of-sale availability and marketing increased between 2014 and 2015 and expanded to neighborhoods with a higher proportion of Black residents between 2012 and 2015. Retailers located within states with high smoking prevalence appear to be targeted by e-cigarette marketing. As e-cigarettes become the target of more regulations, understanding changes in the e-cigarette retail environment is critical to inform potential policies regulating their sale and marketing.
Keywords: Electronic cigarettes; Marketing and promotions; Neighborhood; Retail tobacco marketing.
© 2020 The Authors.