Translating Density: Exploring and Communicating Disparities In Tobacco Retailer Density, Proximity, and Related Health Inequities

Project Dates: 2021-2022

Tobacco use causes cancer and continues to be a leading cause of preventable death in the US. Tobacco retailer density describes the concentration of tobacco retailers in a given area. Evidence shows that tobacco retailer density is higher in low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color. Another useful frame for investigating disparities is to consider residents’ proximity to retailers. Those living nearer tobacco retailers are more likely to smoke and less likely to quit than others living farther away. States and communities have begun to address retailer locations and related disparities through implementation of retail-focused policies such as licensing caps, which complement traditional tobacco control interventions like excise tax and smoke-free air to combat cancer and other tobacco-related health outcomes.

Project Goals:

  • Identify interested community partners and map tobacco retailers in the catchment area and investigate demographic and health disparities associated with retailer density and proximity.
  • Combine GIS modeling, synthetic populations, demographics, and health data to simulate policy implementations that address inequities in retailer density/proximity at the neighborhood and county levels.
  • Develop a dashboard and other translations products collaboratively with community organizations to explore and communicate the built environment for tobacco, related inequities, and potential policy interventions

Implications for Research and Practice:

Importantly, the ultimate goal is to create a public-facing dashboard – in collaboration with ISC-3 community partners – that illustrates relationships between tobacco retailers and inequities. The dashboard will enable practitioners to demonstrate for policymakers and other stakeholders how the tobacco retail environment exacerbates disparities and present promising strategies to address retailer density and proximity, subsequently reducing tobacco-related inequities.

Project Contact: Todd Combs, PhD

Project Staff: Doug Luke, PhD, Veronica Chaitan