Compliance with a sales policy on flavored non-cigarette tobacco products
Objectives: We assessed the effect of the New York City (NYC) policy restricting sales of flavored non-cigarette tobacco products on retail sales using a quasi-experimental comparison design. We also studied possible cross-border purchasing and product substitution by consumers. Methods: We compiled retail scanner data for January 2010–January 2014 for NYC, a proximal comparison area (PCA) surrounding NYC, and the entire U.S. We used regression models to assess trends in sales of flavored cigars, smokeless tobacco (SLT), loose tobacco (RYO), and total cigars in NYC and comparison areas. Results: Sales of flavored cigars (-22.3%), SLT (-97.6%), and RYO (-42.5%) declined following policy implementation (all p<0.01). Flavored cigar sales declined nonsignificantly in the comparison areas. An average 7.4% reduction in total cigar sales was seen in NYC following the policy (p<0.01), as cigar sales increased 12% nationally, suggesting that NYC consumers did not substitute flavored cigars with non-flavored varieties. Conclusions: Implementation of the NYC policy was associated with significant reductions in sales of all restricted products, both absolutely and relative to comparison areas. Despite persistent sales of flavored cigars, overall cigar sales in NYC declined following the policy, although more intensive enforcement is needed to ensure greater compliance with the policy.