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Tobacco outlet density and tobacco knowledge, beliefs, purchasing behaviours and price among adolescents in Scotland

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume206
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2018

Abstract

Despite long-term falls in global adult smoking prevalence and over 50 years of tobacco control policies, adolescent smoking persists. Research suggests greater densities of tobacco retail outlets in residential neighbourhoods are associated with higher adolescent smoking rates. Policies to reduce retail outlets have therefore been identified by public health researchers as a potential ‘new frontier’ in tobacco control. Better understanding of the pathways linking density of tobacco retailers and smoking behaviour could support these policies.

In this study we use path analysis to assess how outlet density in the home environment is related to adolescent tobacco knowledge, beliefs, retail purchases and price in Scotland. We assessed 22,049 13 and 15 year old respondents to the nationally representative cross-sectional 2010 Scottish School Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey. Outlet density was based on Scottish Tobacco Retailers Register, 2012, data. A spatially-weighted Kernel Density Estimation measure of outlet density within 400 m of respondents’ home postcode was grouped into tertiles. The analysis considered whether outlet density was associated with the number of cigarette brands adolescents could name, positive beliefs about smoking, whether smokers purchased cigarettes from shops themselves or through adult proxies and perceived cost of cigarettes. Models were stratified by adolescent smoking status.

The path analyses indicated that outlet density was not associated with most outcomes, but small, significant direct effects on knowledge of cigarette brands among those who had never smoked were observed. With each increase in outlet density tertile the mean number of brands adolescents could name rose by 0.07 (mean = 1.60; SD = 1.18; range = 4). This suggests greater outlet densities may have affected adolescents' knowledge of cigarette brands but did not encourage positive attitudes to smoking, purchases from shops or lower cigarette prices. Exposure to tobacco outlets may influence adolescents’ awareness of tobacco products, a potential pathway to smoking behaviour.

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