Marijuana as a ‘concept’ flavour for cigar products: availability and price near California schools

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Abstract

Objectives

To assess the retail availability of cigar products that refer to marijuana and the largest package size of cigarillos available for ≤$1.

Methods

Trained data collectors conducted marketing surveillance in a random sample of licensed tobacco retailers that sold little cigars/cigarillos (LCCs) (n=530) near a statewide sample of middle and high schools (n=132) in California. Multilevel models examined the presence of marijuana co-marketing and cigarillo pack size as a function of school/neighbourhood characteristics and adjusted for store type.

Results

Of stores that sold LCCs, approximately 62% contained at least one form of marijuana co-marketing: 53.2% sold cigar wraps marketed as blunt wraps, 27.2% sold cigarillos marketed as blunts and 26.0% sold at least one LCC with a marijuana-related ‘concept’ flavour. Controlling for store type, marijuana co-marketing was more prevalent in school neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of young residents (ages 5–17 years) and with lower median household income. Nearly all stores that sold LCCs (87.9%) offered the products for ≤$1. However, significantly larger packs at similarly low prices were available near schools in lower-income neighbourhoods and with a lower percentage of Hispanic students.

Conclusions

Understanding how the tobacco industry manipulates cigar products and marketing to capitalise on the appeal of marijuana to youth and other priority populations is important to inform regulation, particularly for flavoured tobacco products. In addition, the retail availability of five and six packs of LCCs for ≤$1 near California schools underscores policy recommendations to establish minimum prices for multipacks.

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