The current study sought to characterise the tobacco retail environment of supportive housing facilities for persons with mental health (MH) conditions in New York City (NYC) and to estimate the potential impact of a tobacco retail ban near public schools on the retail environment of MH housing in NYC.Methods
Texas A&M Geocoding Services was used to geocode the addresses of housing programmes for patients with MH conditions, non-MH residences, public schools and tobacco retailers in NYC. ESRI ArcMap was used to calculate the number of tobacco retailers within a 500-foot radius around each housing programme and school address point, and the Euclidean distance to the nearest retailer. Generalised linear models were used to compare retail counts and distance between MH and non-MH residences.Results
The mean number of tobacco retailers within 500 feet of an MH housing programme was 2.9 (SD=2.3) and the mean distance to nearest tobacco retailer was 370.6 feet (SD=350.7). MH residences had more retailers within 500 feet and a shorter distance to the nearest retailer compared with non-MH residences in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island (p<0.001). Banning tobacco licences within 350, 500 or 1000 feet of a school would significantly improve the tobacco retail environment of MH housing programmes and reduce disparities between MH and non-MH residences in some boroughs.Conclusions
People with MH conditions residing in supportive housing in NYC encounter a heavy tobacco retail environment in close proximity to their home, and in some boroughs, one worse than non-MH residences. Implementing a ban on tobacco retail near public schools would improve the tobacco retail environment of MH housing programmes in NYC.