Background: Recent changes in California's tobacco and cannabis policies could impact the retail availability of little cigars/cigarillos (LCCs) and blunt wraps that are used for blunt smoking. This study was intended to test whether tobacco flavor bans and minimum pack sizes of LCCs have reduced tobacco availability in California jurisdictions, whereas, permissive policies on sales and marketing of cannabis increased availability.
Methods: Measures of retail availability of LCCs and blunt wraps were obtained from the 2016-2019 longitudinal sample of licensed tobacco retailers (LTRs, n = 4062) from California's Healthy Stores for Healthy Communities campaign. Additional data sources included the California Cannabis Local Laws database and geographic location of 1063 cannabis retailers used for constructing a spatial index of accessibility to the LTRs. Two-level generalized structural equation models were developed to assess effects of store- and jurisdiction-level predictors of change in tobacco availability (+, -, no change).
Results: Neither permissive cannabis policies nor accessibility to cannabis retailers were associated with an increase in retail availability of the tobacco products. Enactment of a tobacco flavor ban, however, was associated with reduced availability of LCCs and blunt wraps, which was more pronounced in jurisdictions that had permissive cannabis policies (i.e. policy interaction).
Conclusions: A tobacco flavor ban may be an effective strategy to reduce retail availability of LCCs, blunt wraps and possibly other tobacco in California jurisdictions. This finding is of particular relevance as the tobacco industry has successfully petitioned for a referendum vote on California's statewide flavor ban in the 2022 election.
Keywords: Blunt smoking; Cannabis; Cigarillos; Licensed tobacco retailers; Policy; Tobacco.
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