Health & Place
To examine associations between area-level characteristics (socioeconomic status, racial or ethnic characteristics, age, and any other characteristics that may be associated with vulnerability) and the prices of tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
We searched MEDLINE, EconLit and Scopus, unpublished and grey literature, hand-searched four specialty journals, examined references of relevant studies, and contacted key informants.
We considered all studies that quantitatively examined area-level variations in the prices of tobacco products and ENDS. We included all studies that examined any area-level measures regardless of the geographic location, language or time of publication. At least two reviewers independently screened the articles. We identified 20 studies.
At least two reviewers independently extracted the characteristics, methods, and main results and assessed the quality of each included study.
Overall, cigarette prices were found to be lower in lower socioeconomic status neighbourhoods, and in neighbourhoods with a higher percentage of youth, and Blacks or African Americans. We identified too few studies that examined price differences for cigarillos, chewing tobacco, roll-your-own, and ENDS to reach any conclusions.
Our findings are in keeping with tobacco industry documents that detailed how manufacturers used race, class, and geography to target vulnerable populations and suggest that regulations that can limit industry price manipulation such as minimum, maximum, and uniform prices, and high specific excise taxes should be considered. More frequent and systematic monitoring of tobacco prices and ENDS is warranted.