Neighborhood Inequities in Tobacco Retailer Density and the Presence of Tobacco-Selling Pharmacies and Tobacco Shops

Health Educ Behav. 2022 Jun;49(3):478-487. doi: 10.1177/10901981211008390. Epub 2021 Apr 19.


Studies document inequitable tobacco retailer density by neighborhood sociodemographics, but these findings may not be robust to different density measures. Policies to reduce density may be less equitable depending on how the presence of store types differs by neighborhood characteristics. We built a 2018 list of probable tobacco retailers in the United States and calculated four measures of density for all census tracts (N = 71,495), including total count, and number of retailers per 1,000 people, square mile, and kilometers of roadway. We fit multivariable regression models testing associations between each density measure and tract-level sociodemographics. We fit logistic regression models testing associations between sociodemographics and the presence of a tobacco-selling pharmacy or tobacco shop. Across all measures, tracts with a greater percentage of residents living below 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL) had higher density. A higher percentage of Black residents, Hispanic or Latino residents, and vacant housing was inconsistently associated with density across measures. Neighborhoods with a greater percentage of Black residents had a lower odds of having a pharmacy (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI; 0.95, 0.97]) and tobacco shop (aOR = 0.87, CI [0.86, 0.89]), while those with a greater percentage of residents living below 150% FPL had greater odds of having a tobacco shop (aOR = 1.18, CI [1.16, 1.20]). Researchers and policymakers should consider how various measures of retailer density may capture different aspects of the environment. Furthermore, there may be an inequitable impact of retailer-specific policies on tobacco availability.

Keywords: geography; health inequalities; neighborhoods; policy; tobacco control; tobacco retailer density.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Commerce
  • Humans
  • Nicotiana
  • Pharmacies*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Tobacco Use
  • United States