PLACE – Tobacco Retailer Location and Tobacco Product Accessibility

Tobacco Retailer Density

The number of licensed tobacco retailers can vary dramatically from one community to another. The more tobacco retailers there are, the more exposure residents have to tobacco marketing. The more exposure to tobacco marketing, the more likely youth will start  smoking, adult smokers will experience more cravings and impulse buying, and people trying to quit will be less successful.

The density of tobacco retailers (number of tobacco retailers per capita)  is typically higher in low-income neighborhoods than in higher-income neighborhoods. This helps to explain the disproportionately high rate of smoking among New Yorkers with the least education and income who are 43% more likely to smoke than those with higher income and education.


While the tobacco use rate has steadily declined overall in the past decade, tobacco use is not an equal opportunity killer. Many factors contribute to the higher rates of smoking among those with the least education and income, and exposure to tobacco marketing is one of them.

Learn more about the negative impact of tobacco retailer density:

Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies: Rx for Addiction

Pharmacies are the face of neighborhood healthcare. Americans rely on their neighborhood pharmacies and pharmacists as easily accessible and trusted points of care. And yet, 52% of all pharmacies in New York still sell tobacco products, the only consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill at least one half of its long term users. Selling tobacco in pharmacies sends a mixed message to consumers about the dangers of tobacco products and makes it harder for smokers to quit.


Local pharmacy where tobacco product display outsizes stop smoking center 2 to 1

In July 2009, the Pharmacist Society of the State of New York (PSSNY), House of Delegates passed a resolution supporting efforts to end the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. Among Capital District residents, 72% think pharmacies should not sell tobacco products; 60% think there should be a regulation prohibiting the sale of tobacco in pharmacies.

In the Capital Region, none of the independent pharmacies sell tobacco. Of the national chains, only CVS Caremark has stopped selling tobacco products in all their stores. Since then, total cigarette purchases in states where CVS holds significant market share declined by 1%, and smokers who had previously purchased their cigarettes exclusively at CVS were up to twice as likely to stop buying cigarettes entirely. 

Learn more about the problem of tobacco sales in pharmacies:


This infographic from ChangeLab Solutions and CounterTobacco illustrates various ways in which policy solutions can reduce tobacco retailer density. You can also learn more here: Tobacco Control at the Point of Sale: Effective Policy Solutions.


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