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Tobacco Product Access Scenarios Influence Hypothetical Use Behaviors

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Objective: In this paper, we characterize how potential policies restricting access to tobacco products may impact use behaviors among adult, past 30-day, smokers and e-cigarette users. Methods: We conducted an online experiment with 820 smokers, e-cigarette users, and dual users (April 27-June 8, 2020). We randomized participants to one of 4 hypothetical access scenarios: (1) tobacco retail stores open + pharmacies open (TOPO); (2) tobacco stores open but favorite brand unavailable + pharmacies open (TOPO-NFB); (3) tobacco stores closed + pharmacies open (TCPO); and (4) tobacco stores closed + pharmacies closed (TCPC). Outcomes (measured on 0-100 visual analog scales) included the likelihood of quitting, reducing, switching brands or products, and finding another source of tobacco products. Seemingly unrelated regressions tested for associations between access scenarios and prospective tobacco use behaviors. Results: Participants in the TCPO and TOPO-NFB scenarios were more likely to reduce use, switch brands/products, and find another source (ps < .001) than those in the TOPO scenario. Dual and flavored product users were more likely to switch products (ps < .01). Conclusions: When tobacco retailers are closed, tobacco users may be more likely to quit and/or reduce use compared to when retailers are open. However, access restrictions could prompt users to switch tobacco brands/products or sources.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 2021

More about this publication?
  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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