Neighborhoods with a high proportion of black residents or high poverty tend to have the greatest density of stores selling cigarettes and tobacco products, according to a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Poverty explained some of the association, but an urban planning concept, neighborhood “stability” – including the proportion of homes that are rented versus owned – accounted for most of the link, the study team reported.
“The neighborhood you live in shouldn’t determine how much cancer-causing product is present in your day-to-day life,” said lead study author Joseph Lee of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. “The tobacco industry spends a large portion of its advertising budget at retailers, so when we see differences by neighborhood, that’s a big investment by the tobacco industry.”
There are about 375,000 stores in the US that sell tobacco products, Lee’s team writes. In 2014, US stores contained an average of 30 tobacco ads, they add. Cigarette smoking causes about 480,000 deaths each year in the US, which is about one of every five deaths, according to the CDC.