Funding Source: VFHY
Most adult smokers initiated tobacco use prior to the age of 18; thus, preventing youth initiation is key to reducing the prevalence. Policy efforts targeting tobacco use have been moderately successful in reducing youth smoking; however, electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is common and increasing among youth. Continued research is necessary to inform policies that have the potential to maintain reductions in youth smoking and reduce e-cigarette use. To advance tobacco retail regulation policies in Virginia, data are needed to better characterize the tobacco retail landscape, how it changes with local and federal regulations, and how the landscape may influence the initiation of cigarette, e-cigarette, and dual use among youth. To address these points, the aims of this study are three-fold. First, we will characterize the existing tobacco landscape within Virginia using geospatial analyses, which is necessary for determining which areas/populations of Virginia are the most vulnerable, in terms of tobacco retail outlet (TRO) and vape shop outlet (VSO) exposure. Second, we will determine how local and federal regulations might affect TRO/VSO retail density. This is important to guide evidence-based policy initiatives that have the potential to reduce tobacco and e-cigarette use within the community, particularly among youth. Third, we will evaluate the association that TRO/VSO density, in and around areas frequented by youth, have on risk for cigarette, e-cigarette, and dual use among Virginia youth ages 11-15 years. The association between TRO/VSO placement and youth smoking is a growing area of interest within the field of tobacco control, and aligns well with the VFHY’s emphasis on conducting research that will inform Virginia and federal lawmakers on initiatives and public health strategies that have the potential to reduce youth tobacco use. Successful completion of this application will provide a comprehensive understanding of how various policies at the local and federal level impact TRO/VSO density within neighborhoods across Virginia and provide evidence determining to what effect TRO/VSO relate to cigarette, e-cigarette, and dual use among Virginia youth. Further, results from this study will help inform community-level policies targeting tobacco and e-cigarette use in youth via regulation of TRO/VSO density within the Commonwealth of Virginia.