Background: Population-level research on the implications of retail pharmacy policies to end the sale of tobacco products is scant, and the impact of such policies on racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities across neighborhoods in access to tobacco products remains unexplored. Methods: We investigated the association between neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics and tobacco retail density in Rhode Island (RI) (N=240 census tracts). We also investigated whether the CVS Health (N=60) policy to end the sale of tobacco products reduces the disparity in the density of tobacco retail across neighborhoods, and we conducted a prospective policy analysis to determine if a similar policy change in all pharmacies in RI (N=135) would reduce the disparity in tobacco retail density. Results: The results revealed statistically significant associations between neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics and tobacco retail outlet density across RI neighborhoods. The results when excluding the CVS Health locations, as well as all pharmacies as tobacco retailers, revealed no change in the pattern for this association. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that while a commendable tobacco control policy, the CVS Health policy appears to have no impact on the neighborhood racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in the density of tobacco retailers in RI. Prospective policy analyses showed no impact on this disparity even if all other pharmacies in the state adopted a similar policy Impact: Policy efforts aimed at reducing the disparity in access to tobacco products should focus on reducing the density of tobacco outlets in poor and racial/ethnic neighborhoods.
- Received December 8, 2015.
- Revision received January 22, 2016.
- Accepted January 22, 2016.
- Copyright ©2016, American Association for Cancer Research.