Tobacco Retail Environments and Social Inequalities in Individual-Level Smoking and Cessation Among Scottish Adults

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Many neighborhood characteristics may constrain or enable smoking. This study investigated whether the neighborhood tobacco retail environment was associated with individual-level smoking and cessation in Scottish adults, and whether inequalities in smoking status were related to tobacco retailing.


Tobacco outlet density measures were developed for neighborhoods across Scotland using the September 2012 Scottish Tobacco Retailers Register. The outlet data were cleaned and geocoded (n = 10 161) using a Geographic Information System. Kernel density estimation was used to calculate an outlet density measure for each postcode. The kernel density estimation measures were then appended to data on individuals included in the 2008–2011 Scottish Health Surveys (n = 28 751 adults aged ≥16), via their postcode. Two-level logistic regression models examined whether neighborhood density of tobacco retailing was associated with current smoking status and smoking cessation and whether there were differences in the relationship between household income and smoking status, by tobacco outlet density.


After adjustment for individual- and area-level confounders, compared to residents of areas with the lowest outlet densities, those living in areas with the highest outlet densities had a 6% higher chance of being a current smoker, and a 5% lower chance of being an ex-smoker. There was little evidence to suggest that inequalities in either current smoking or cessation were narrower in areas with lower availability of tobacco retailing.


The findings suggest that residents of environments with a greater availability of tobacco outlets are more likely to start and/or sustain smoking, and less likely to quit.

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