Introduction: The density of tobacco retailers varies by community characteristics such as poverty levels or racial and ethnic composition. However, few studies have investigated how specific types of tobacco retailers vary by community characteristics. Our objective was to assess how the types of tobacco retailers in Ohio varied by the characteristics of the communities in which they were located.
Results: For all US Census tracts, convenience stores were the most common type of retailer selling tobacco. Yet, the prevalence of convenience stores was higher in high-poverty urban tracts than in low-poverty urban tracts. Discount stores were the second-most common type of tobacco retailer and were most prevalent in rural tracts and high-racial and ethnic minority urban tracts. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and vape or hookah shops typically had the highest prevalence in more advantaged tracts.
Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that the distribution of specific retailer types varies by community characteristics. The distribution of these retailer types has implications for product availability and price, which may subsequently affect tobacco use and cessation. To create equitable outcomes, policies should focus on retailers such as convenience and discount stores, which are heavily located in communities experiencing tobacco-related health disparities.