The tobacco industry spends the vast majority of their marketing and promotional budget at retail outlets. However, few studies have used publicly available data to examine trends in the number and types of retail establishments where tobacco products are sold. Using the U.S. Economic Census for 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017 (the latest year), we examined the number, type, and sales of payroll establishments selling tobacco products. Nine store types accounted for 94% - 99% of tobacco product sales between 1997 and 2017. Gas/convenience stores had the greatest market share (33% - 49% of tobacco sales). The number of warehouse clubs selling tobacco quadrupled; however, market share only increased from 9.6% to 10.3%. Supermarkets experienced the largest decrease in percent of stores selling tobacco. Pharmacy tobacco sales increased in 2012 then decreased in 2017; per store sales volume more than doubled between 1997 and 2012. Online shopping accounted for less than 1% of the market share between 1997 and 2012, but rose to 6.3% in 2017. Between 1997 and 2017, consumers shifted where they purchased tobacco products. Declining tobacco sales in supermarkets is a promising trend for consumers seeking healthy food without exposure to tobacco product marketing; however, the consistently large number of tobacco retailers, and thus widespread tobacco availability, is concerning. Consumer tobacco purchase changes over time support the case for point-of-sale policies that affect different retail types, including pharmacy bans, to reduce tobacco retailer density. Additionally, the rapid shift to online tobacco purchasing in 2017 identifies a new target for enhanced regulation and enforcement.
|Journal||Preventive Medicine Reports|
|State||Published - Oct 2023|