Prices for Tobacco and Nontobacco Products in Pharmacies Versus Other Stores: Results From Retail Marketing Surveillance in California and in the United States

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine disparities in the price of tobacco and nontobacco products in pharmacies compared with other types of stores.

Methods

We recorded the prices of Marlboro, Newport, the cheapest cigarettes, and bottled water in a random sample of licensed tobacco retailers (n = 579) in California in 2014. We collected comparable data from retailers (n = 2603) in school enrollment zones for representative samples of US 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in 2012. Ordinary least squares regressions modeled pretax prices as a function of store type and neighborhood demographics.

Results

In both studies, the cheapest cigarettes cost significantly less in pharmacies than other stores; the average estimated difference was $0.47 to $1.19 less in California. We observed similar patterns for premium-brand cigarettes. Conversely, bottled water cost significantly more in pharmacies than elsewhere. Newport cost less in areas with higher proportions of African Americans; other cigarette prices were related to neighborhood income and age. Neighborhood demographics were not related to water prices.

Conclusions

Compared with other stores, pharmacies charged customers less for cigarettes and more for bottled water. State and local policies to promote tobacco-free pharmacies would eliminate an important source of discounted cigarettes.

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