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The current study: (1) assesses sociodemographic disparities in local policies related to tobacco and cannabis retail, and (2) examines the cross-sectional association between policy strength and retailer densities of tobacco, e-cigarette (vape), and cannabis retailers within California cities and county unincorporated areas (N = 539). We combined (a) American Community Survey data (2019 5-year estimates), (b) 2018 tobacco, vape, and cannabis retailer locations from a commercial data provider, (c) 2017 tobacco and vape retail environment policy data from American Lung Association, and (d) 2018 cannabis policy data from California Cannabis Local Laws Database. Conditional autoregressive models examined policy strength associations with sociodemographic composition and retailer density in California jurisdictions. Jurisdictions with larger percentages of Black and foreign-born residents had stronger tobacco and vape policies. For cannabis policy, only income had a small, significant positive association with policy strength. Contrary to hypothesis, tobacco/vape policies were not significantly associated with retailer density, but cannabis policy strength was associated with lower cannabis retailer density (relative rate = 0.58, 95% Uncertainty Interval 0.47–0.70)—this effect was completely driven by storefront bans. Thus, storefront cannabis bans were the only policy studied that was associated with lower cannabis retailer density. Further research is needed to understand policies and disparities in retail environments for tobacco, vape, and cannabis, including data on the prospective association between policy implementation and subsequent retailer density, and the role of enforcement.


This article was originally published in Preventive Medicine Reports, volume 35, in 2023. (751 kB)
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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