Tobacco Outlet Density and Demographics At the Tract Level of Analysis in Iowa: Implications for Environmentally Based Prevention Initiatives

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This study assessed the geographic association between tobacco outlet density and three demographic correlates - income, race, and ethnicity - at the tract level of analysis for one county in the Midwestern United States. Data for residential census tracts in a Midwestern U.S. county were derived from year 2003 licenses for 474 tobacco outlets. Demographic variables were based on 2000 census data. Census tracts with lower median household income, higher percent of African American residents, and higher percent of Latinos residents had greater density of tobacco selling retail outlets. Areas characterized by lower income and disproportionately more African Americans and Latinos have greater physical access to tobacco products. Physical access to tobacco is a critical public-health issue because, given that smokers have been shown to be price sensitive, lowering access costs (e.g., reduced travel time) is likely to increase consumption. Findings also suggest the need for structural or environmental interventions, i.e., tobacco outlet zoning laws, to mitigate the health consequences associated with tobacco use in certain populations and geographic regions.



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