Tobacco marketed more heavily in city's minority neighborhoods, study finds

August 6, 2018 by Laura Otto, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
“The evidence is increasingly clear that children who are exposed to tobacco marketing in stores are more likely to start smoking,” said Linnea Laestadius, assistant professor in the Zilber School of Public Health. Credit: UWM Photo/Pete Amland

Tobacco products in Milwaukee are more aggressively marketed in stores in African-American and Latino neighborhoods than in white ones, according to a study led by a public health researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Results are similar to other studies showing that communities with lower incomes, lower educational attainment and more minority residents are targeted with significantly more tobacco promotion. This study is the first to document the trend in Milwaukee, said Linnea Laestadius, assistant professor in the Zilber School of Public Health.

In addition to the disparity, the researchers have identified a state policy obstacle that keeps local governments from enacting more stringent regulation of . The results were published Aug. 2 in the journal Tobacco Regulatory Science and were presented to the Milwaukee Common Council earlier this year.

The study involved multiple stakeholder organizations, who conducted an audit of promotion and advertising practices at stores in three demographically distinct ZIP code clusters, with a random sample of tobacco retailers drawn from each.

Tobacco near candy

Compared to retailers in the predominantly white ZIP code cluster, stores in the African-American and Hispanic areas are more likely to engage in tactics like placing tobacco next to candy, placing ads in the line of sight of children and offering price promotions such as selling small cigars individually and for less than $1, said Laestadius.

"The evidence is increasingly clear that children who are exposed to tobacco marketing in stores are more likely to start smoking," she added.

While it's legal for retailers to market , she said, these practices are not used to the same degree in the white ZIP code cluster. The tobacco industry spends over $8 billion annually on cigarette advertising and promotion.

Laestadius sees this as the industry cultivating the next generation of smokers by targeting susceptible populations. "Addressing point-of-sale advertising would ultimately help us reduce the disparities we see in smoking-related diseases," she said.

In Wisconsin, African-American adults and lower income adults have particularly high smoking rates, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Promotion of menthol cigarettes, which have higher carbon monoxide concentrations than regular cigarettes, was most common in the African-American ZIP code cluster.

State policy creates obstacle

The study team also pointed to a state level policy, called preemption, that bars local governments from establishing regulations that are stricter than Wisconsin legislation on advertising, licensing and youth access. For example, the rule means Milwaukee couldn't adopt a ban on , which have long been targeted at African American communities. Changing state law would give cities a better chance to protect their residents and promote health.

Store audits were conducted by workers and volunteers at 195 retailers during three months of 2016. The auditors used the Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settingsform co-developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, specifically designed to help community groups collect data to inform policy change.

Explore further: Banning tobacco sales near schools could reduce socioeconomic disparities, new study shows

More information: Linnea Laestadius et al. Identifying Disparities and Policy Needs with the STARS Surveillance Tool, Tobacco Regulatory Science (2018). DOI: 10.18001/TRS.4.4.2

Related Stories

Banning tobacco sales near schools could reduce socioeconomic disparities, new study shows

August 26, 2016
Banning tobacco sales within 1,000 feet of schools could reduce socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in tobacco density across neighborhoods, according to a study being published today in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco ...

Complex price relationships influence nicotine product purchases

May 21, 2018
Changes in pricing of tobacco products affect sales of those products at varying rates, with demand for little cigars, cigarillos, loose "roll your own" tobacco, pipe tobacco and e-cigarettes more sensitive to price change ...

Receptivity to e-cigarette ads among young adults in the US leads to cigarette smoking

March 26, 2018
Receptivity to advertising for e-cigarettes, cigarettes and cigars were confirmed to be associated with those who would try the respective tobacco product within one year. However, receptivity to e-cigarette advertising also ...

Higher cigarette taxes may increase use of chewing tobacco and cigars in adolescents

February 14, 2018
Raising cigarette taxes to combat smoking may increase the use of cigars and smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco, in adolescents according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, involving ...

New study shows race, neighborhood, income affect availability of single cigarettes

November 10, 2015
The Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program (TPEP) at UNC Family Medicine has found that where a person lives determines the likelihood of there being single cigarettes or improperly marketed and displayed tobacco products ...

Recommended for you

Like shark attack and the lottery, unconscious bias influences cancer screening

August 17, 2018
What do shark attack, the lottery and ovarian cancer screening having in common? It turns out our judgments about these things are all influenced by unconscious bias.

Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health

August 17, 2018
Eating carbohydrates in moderation seems to be optimal for health and longevity, suggests new research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Phantom odors: One American in 15 smells odors that aren't there, study finds

August 16, 2018
Imagine the foul smell of an ash tray or burning hair. Now imagine if these kinds of smells were present in your life, but without a source. A new study finds that 1 in 15 Americans (or 6.5 percent) over the age of 40 experiences ...

US drug overdose deaths surge amid fentanyl scourge

August 16, 2018
US drug overdose deaths surged to nearly 72,000 last year, as addicts increasingly turn to extremely powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl as the supply of prescription painkillers has tightened.

Parental life span predicts daughters living to 90 without chronic disease or disability

August 15, 2018
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that women whose mothers lived to at least age 90 were more likely to also live to 90, free of serious diseases and disabilities.

Widespread declines in life expectancy across high income countries coincide with rising young adult, midlife mortality

August 15, 2018
The ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States is a key contributor to the most recent declines in life expectancy, suggests a study published by The BMJ today.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.