Fending off bad neighbors: Evaluating the effectiveness of San Francisco Tobacco Retail Density Ordinance in reducing concentration in high risk areas

Authors: Priyanka Vyas*, University of California, San Francisco
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Health disparities, spatial inequity, health policy, tobacco,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Jackson, Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In an effort to lower the disproportionate concentration of tobacco retailers, San Francisco enacted a policy that capped the number of tobacco retail outlets at 45 per supervisorial district. Furthermore, the policy also banned new permits from being issued in 500 feet of another retailer and within 500 feet of a school. However, the effect of retail density ordinance in reducing spatial concentration of retailers in areas of high risk or the greatest need is not known. Given the evidence that tobacco retailers tend to concentrate in low income and racially minority neighborhoods, around schools, we examine the spatial distribution of tobacco retailers before and three years since the ordinance has been into effect. We use a marked point pattern analysis to examine the distribution of retailers in relation to neighboring retailers, around educational institutions, and based on land use mix. In view of the existing literature, we apply a fixed bandwidths with varying distances to examine clusters of low, medium, and high intensity of retailers based on various measures and we identify the spatial scale at which these clusters manifest. We find that current approach of "one size fits all" may not be adequate in lowering concentration in high risk areas. Interestingly, we find that the most significant benefit of this policy has been in areas of mixed residential zones. This analysis has practical findings for local health departments as they consider different approaches to reduce spatial clusters of tobacco retailers and exposure to harmful substances among vulnerable population.

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