Concentration of Cannabis and Tobacco Retailers in Los Angeles County, California: A Spatial Analysis of Potential Effects on Youth and Ethnic Minorities

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2022 Jul;83(4):502-511. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2022.83.502.


Objective: Cannabis and tobacco retailers are believed to cluster in areas with more racial/ethnic minorities, which could account for the disproportionate use of blunts in Black and Hispanic communities. The current study examined the spatial relationship between cannabis and licensed tobacco retailers in Los Angeles County, California, and assessed whether various neighborhood and business factors influenced the spatial patterning.

Method: Generalized additive models were used to test the association between the location of cannabis retailers (N = 429) and their accessibility potential (AP) to tobacco retailers (N = 8,033). The covariates included cannabis licensure status, median household income, population density, percentages of racial/ ethnic minorities and young adults (18-34), unemployment status, families living in poverty, minimum completion of high school/General Educational Development (GED) credential, and industrial businesses by census tract.

Results: The location of cannabis retailers was significantly associated with AP in all adjusted models (p < .005). The percentage of racial/ethnic minorities, age (18-34 years), and nonlicensure of cannabis retailers, which were positively correlated with AP (p < .05), confounded the association between AP and cannabis retailer location.

Conclusions: The concentration of unlicensed cannabis retailers and tobacco retailers in young and racially/ethnically diverse neighborhoods may increase access to and use of cigarillos for blunt smoking. Jurisdictions within Los Angeles County should consider passing ordinances requiring minimum distances between cannabis and tobacco retailers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cannabis*
  • Commerce
  • Ethnic and Racial Minorities
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Young Adult