Introduction Electronic cigarette awareness and use has increased dramatically in recent years, though less is known about electronic cigarette advertising at the retail point-of-sale . Since 2014, more youth use electronic cigarettes than any other tobacco product, and this trend is thought to be related to advertising and marketing. Youth are particularly susceptible to point-of-sale marketing and the majority of youth visit convenience stores on a weekly basis. This study seeks to describe the retail electronic cigarette environment in an urban setting, particularly as it relates to targeting youth. Methods A random sampling of tobacco retail stores in Birmingham, a Southern primarily low-income minority city, were assessed using the Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings (STARS) and an electronic cigarette-specific survey. Stores were selected from the Synar program listing and were surveyed for the sale and advertising of various types of tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes. Results Of the 161 retail outlets surveyed from June to July, 2016, 111 sold some type of tobacco product. Of these outlets that sold tobacco products, 85 sold electronic cigarette products. Of these 85 outlets, 27 had exterior electronic cigarette advertisements and 37 had interior electronic cigarette advertisements, with as many as 5 advertisements visible. 25% (28 stores out of 111 tobacco retailers) of electronic cigarette advertisements were within 3 feet of the floor. 96% (n=82) sold disposable electronic cigarettes and 69% (n=59) sold reusable electronic cigarettes. Of concern related to youth promotion, 93% (n=79) had flavored electronic cigarette products with 66% (n=56) selling fruit flavors, 42% (n=36) selling drink flavors (i.e. pina colada) and 11% (n=9) selling candy/dessert flavors. Electronic cigarettes were sold within 12 inches of toys, candy, gum, slushy/soda machines or ice cream in 49% (n=42) of outlets. There were 11 retail outlets that sold electronic cigarettes that were within 1000 feet of a school. Notably, there was an inverse relationship with retail outlet proximity and electronic cigarettes sold. 52% of retailers within 1000 feet of a school sold electronic cigarettes, while 74% of retailers located more than 1000 feet from a school sold electronic cigarettes (p=0.044). Conclusions The majority of stores that sell tobacco also sell electronic cigarette products, and many of these stores sell and advertise in a manner that is attractive to youth. Public health efforts should focus on reducing the impact of advertising and marketing to youth by restricting electronic cigarette advertising within 3 feet of the floor and within 12 inches of toys, candy, gum, slushy/soda machines or ice cream. Additionally, public health and public policy officials should consider avenues to ban electronic cigarettes flavors that are especially appealing to youth.
Are Electronic Cigarettes Marketed Towards Youth? Results from a Descriptive Study
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John Stone, Mason L. Henderson, Robert B. Buchalter, Chris B. Thorne, Sabriye Abban, Susan Walley; Are Electronic Cigarettes Marketed Towards Youth? Results from a Descriptive Study. Pediatrics May 2018; 142 (1_MeetingAbstract): 451. 10.1542/peds.142.1MA5.451
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