To assess the geographical variation in tobacco price (cigarettes and roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco) in convenience stores across Scotland and how this relates to neighbourhood income deprivation, tobacco retail outlet density and urban/rural status.
Tobacco price data from 124 566 shopping baskets purchased in 274 convenience stores during 1 week in April 2018 were obtained through an electronic point-of-sale system. These data were combined with neighbourhood-level measures of income deprivation, tobacco retail outlet density and urban/rural status. We examined brand price for 12 of the most popular cigarette brands and 3 RYO brands and variations in purchases by price segment; multivariable regression analysis assessed associations between area variables and tobacco price.
Most stores sold tobacco in all price segments. The lowest priced subvalue brands were the most popular in all neighbourhoods but were most dominant in shops in more deprived neighbourhoods. When total sales were assessed, overall purchase price varied significantly by neighbourhood income deprivation; packets of 20 cigarettes were 50 pence (5.6%) lower and RYO 34 pence (2.7%) lower among shops in the two highest income deprivation quintiles relative to the lowest. Analysis of individual brands showed that for 3 of the 12 cigarette brands considered, average prices were 12–17 pence lower in more deprived neighbourhoods with the most popular RYO brand 15 pence lower. There was limited evidence of a relationship with tobacco retail outlet density.
Across Scottish convenience stores, the purchase price of cigarettes and RYO was lower in more income-deprived neighbourhoods. The lower prices primarily reflect greater sales of cheap brands in these areas, rather than retailers reducing the prices of individual brands.