Tobacco retail availability and cigarette and e-cigarette use among youth and adults: a scoping review

Tob Control. 2022 Dec;31(e2):e175-e188. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2020-056376. Epub 2021 Jul 22.


Objective: States and localities are formulating strategies to reduce the widespread retail availability of tobacco products. Evidence of associations between retailer density/proximity and tobacco use outcomes can help inform those strategies. We conducted a scoping review on tobacco retail availability and cigarette/e-cigarette use in adults and youth, and considered variations in spatial units, measures of retailer exposure and outcomes across studies.

Methods: A systematic search for studies examining the association between retailer density/proximity and youth and adult cigarette/e-cigarette use was conducted across MEDLINE (PubMed), Web of Science and Google Scholar through 27 August 2020 with no restrictions.

Results: Thirty-five studies were included in our qualitative synthesis. While there were differences in neighbourhood definitions (eg, egocentric vs administrative), there is evidence for a positive association between higher retailer density in egocentric neighbourhoods around homes and current smoking in adults and adolescents. Administrative unit measures in some studies showed associations with adult current smoking, and adolescent lifetime and current smoking. Studies on tobacco outlet proximity to homes obtained mixed results. Density/proximity of tobacco outlets around schools showed no or inverse association with adolescent smoking, but suggests higher susceptibility to smoking. Evidence of an association between e-cigarette retail availability and e-cigarette use is limited due to a small number of studies.

Conclusion: The current literature provides limited empirical evidence of the association between tobacco retailer availability and smoking or e-cigarette use. More research with uniform measures of environmental exposure to tobacco retailers is needed to allow for greater comparability between studies.

Keywords: Electronic nicotine delivery devices; Environment; Public policy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Commerce
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Tobacco Use
  • Vaping* / epidemiology