PURPOSE: To describe the presence of licensed tobacco retailers (LTRs), cigarette advertisements, price-reducing promotions, and compliance with tobacco control policies in New York State from 2004 to 2015 and to discuss implications and lessons learned from 11 years of experience conducting LTR surveys.
DESIGN: Annual surveys of tobacco advertising from cross-sectional, stratified random samples of LTRs in New York State from 2004 to 2015 were conducted by professional data collectors. Data for 2013 were unavailable as the survey was not fielded in that year.
SETTING: New York State.
PARTICIPANTS: Licensed tobacco retailers, which are stores licensed to sell tobacco in the state of New York. Between 3.6% (n = 800) and 19.7% (n = 3945) of all LTRs were sampled annually.
MEASURES: The presence and number of cigarette advertisements and the presence of price-reducing promotions, required age-of-sale signage, and self-service tobacco displays were documented.
ANALYSIS: We tested for significant differences between 2014 and 2015 and significant trends overall and by outlet type. We used logistic regression for binary outcomes and Poisson regression for count variables.
RESULTS: The number of LTRs in New York State decreased 22.9% from 2004 (n = 25 740) to 2015 (n = 19 855). The prevalence and number of cigarette advertisements and the prevalence of cigarette price-reducing promotions decreased significantly over time. Compliance with posting required age-of-sale signs increased significantly from 2004 to 2015 and from 2014 to 2015. Compliance with the ban on self-service tobacco displays was consistently near 100%.
CONCLUSION: The tobacco retail environment in New York State improved substantially from 2004 to 2015. The implications of these findings for youth and adult smoking and the associated social costs are unknown; however, decreases in pro-tobacco marketing, decreases in the number of LTRs, and improvements in compliance are likely to have positive impacts on youth and adult smoking outcomes, such as reduced initiation and increased cessation, given previous research findings.