A Cross-sectional Analysis of Socio-spatial Patterning of Tobacco Retail in Shanghai, China

Nicotine Tob Res. 2022 Nov 12;24(12):2018-2025. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntac155.


Introduction: International evidence from high-income countries demonstrates that the availability of tobacco tends to be greater in more urban and more deprived neighborhoods. However, little is known about the socio-spatial disparities in other settings, including megacities in China. This study investigated the patterning of tobacco retailers across Shanghai by types of tobacco retailers, including the relationship with levels of urbanity and neighborhood deprivation.

Aims and methods: Tobacco retailer data (n = 19 413) was extracted from a web-scraped Points-of-Interest database. For all communities (n = 5432) across Shanghai, neighborhood tobacco retail availability was calculated using population-weighted kernel density estimation and grouped by quintiles of neighborhood deprivation and a 3-level urban classification. Associations were analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis tests and epsilon squared.

Results: Across Shanghai, tobacco retail availability decreased from more urbanized areas to less urbanized areas. There was a statistical difference (p < .001) in the availability of tobacco retail across quintiles of deprivation, with the highest availability in the less deprived neighborhoods, and the lowest availability in the most deprived neighborhoods. However, this trend was reversed in the urban center, where retail availability was greatest in the most deprived areas. Convenience stores were the most common type of tobacco retailer across the city, while tobacco-only outlets were most strongly associated with levels of neighborhood deprivation.

Conclusions: The results show an association between tobacco retail availability and neighborhood deprivation, which varied with levels of urbanity and types of tobacco retailers. These findings provide supportive evidence for further interventions that target reducing inequalities in exposure to tobacco retail.

Implications: This is the first study to examine the relationship between tobacco retail availability and neighborhood deprivation in the context of Chinese megacities. Using data from Shanghai, China, we found a significant non-linear association between tobacco retail availability and neighborhood deprivation across the city. It is plausible that the socio-spatial disparities in tobacco retail availability at the neighborhood level may be a key factor explaining differences in smoking behaviors between sociodemographic groups. The findings emphasize the need for greater efforts in regulating neighborhood-level tobacco retailing in China.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Commerce
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Nicotiana*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Tobacco Products*