Markey research to inform regulations on latest tobacco products

LEXINGTON, Ky. (February 9, 2023) — A new study from the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center will help inform policy for the sale and marketing of two different tobacco products recently introduced to the US market.

The study, published in Preventive Medicine Reports, is one of the first to examine the retail availability of single-use e-cigarettes and oral nicotine pouches, providing an early indication that the products are targeting different audiences.

“As part of the FDA’s pre-market approval process, single-use e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches will soon be subject to more regulation. Understanding their availability will help inform potential policy action to regulate their sales and marketing,” said Shyanika Rose, Ph.D., the study’s first author and assistant professor at the UK College of Medicine.

Rose worked with colleagues Cristine Delnevo, Ph.D., and Mary Hrywna, Ph.D., from the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies to verify the availability of these products at four locations in Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina investigate.

The team screened tobacco retailers to determine the availability of nicotine pouches and single-use e-cigarettes compared to traditional products, including cigarettes. They also tracked neighborhood characteristics of business locations.

The results showed that both products were already widely used despite their recent launch. However, their availability patterns differed from each other and from regular combustible cigarettes, suggesting that they target different audiences.

In particular, disposable e-cigarettes were more likely to be sold by specialty tobacco/vape shops, while nicotine pouches were more likely to be available at convenience stores and at stores in areas with more non-Hispanic white residents.

Tobacco companies market to specific audiences, resulting in tobacco-related health disparities for specific populations. When new products come to market, identifying their target audience is the first step in developing fair guidelines for their sale and marketing.

“We know that the industry plays a powerful role in shaping the retail environment, and therefore the point of sale can provide clues as to where the industry might focus its efforts,” Hryvna said. “Particularly for newer products like nicotine pouches, where research is still quite limited, our study using retail reviews offers insights into potential audiences for such products.”

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under grant number R01CA231139. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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