City of Chicago Flavored Tobacco Product Ban Near Schools: A Policy Evaluation


Flavored tobacco products have repeatedly been shown to be appealing to youth, and encourage children to initiate and continue to use these products. In 2009, the FDA restricted the use of flavors, with the exception of menthol, in cigarettes. In response, the tobacco industry began to widely promote flavored cigarillos and little cigars, as well as smokeless products. These products are often indistinguishable from candy items at the cash register, are sold in smaller, more affordable quantities, and are generally kid-friendly. Recently, electronic cigarettes, with a range of candy and fruit-flavored choices, have been increasing in popularity, and in 2012, could be purchased nationwide in over 30% of retail stores selling food and tobacco within school enrollment zones. The tobacco industry also continues to engage in targeting marketing of menthol cigarettes among African American youth, such as promoting Newport cigarettes near high schools mainly attended by African-Americans. 

Thus, in June, 2014, the City of Chicago will become the first locality in the U.S. to prohibit the sales of all flavored tobacco products (defined as any tobacco product that contains a constituent that impacts a characterizing flavor, including menthol and electronic cigarettes) in retail outlets within 500 feet of all public or private elementary, middle or secondary school. The Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), is poised to assess how this ban affects the retail marketing environment, and ultimately, youth tobacco use.

This study proposes to evaluate the impact of this new policy by collecting data on flavored tobacco product availability, placement, promotion and price pre- (baseline) and post-implementation (3-month follow-up) of the ban in a sample of retail outlets in Chicago. Of the 3,030 licensed retailers in the City, 355 retailers located within 500 feet of a school (12 %) will be affected.  This rather limited number of affected retailers allows an opportunity to implement a pre-post study design, with two comparison groups: (1) licensed tobacco retail outlets within 501-1000 feet of schools; and licensed tobacco retail outlets beyond 1000 feet of schools.  If resources permit, UIC will work with the City to add new flavored product questions to their ongoing school-based surveys to measure the effect of this ban on changes in youth use of flavored and unflavored tobacco products, and to assess additional points in time.

2 Aims:

1. Using data collected from retail store observation audits, determine whether product availability, placement, promotion, and price of all tobacco products has been affected by the ban on the sales of flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of schools.

2a. Determine whether the ban has affected the retail market for tobacco products in general.

2b. Using data collected from the student self-report surveys, examine how the ban has affected youth uptake of both flavored and non-flavored tobacco products.

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Principal investigator
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National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Grant No. 5 U01 CA154248-03)

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