Impacts of new local and state policies on substance use and associated retail landscapes

Authors: Louisa Holmes*, Pennsylvania State University, Pamela M Ling, UCSF
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Health and Medical, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: marijuana, e-cigarettes, health behavior, health geography, young adults, urban geography, substance abuse
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Numerous studies have documented associations between tobacco retail outlet density and proximity, and tobacco use behavior in urban environments, especially among youth. Initial studies of cannabis dispensaries in states that have legalized recreational use, like California, suggest that dispensary siting may be related to community disinvestment, but little is known about the impact of dispensary location or density on young adult use patterns. Additionally, vape retailers have been found to disproportionately appeal to youth and be sited near to schools. Together these retailers create urban landscapes of risk that lend themselves to substance use among young adults. Since 2015, California, and some of its municipalities, have implemented a slate of new policies altering this landscape. San Francisco County issued a moratorium on new tobacco retail licenses in 2015, passed the nation’s first complete ban on flavored vape product sales in 2017 and banned vape sales altogether in 2019. Several Alameda County municipalities similarly banned flavored tobacco sales during this time. In 2016, California raised the tobacco purchase age to 21, legalized cannabis and increased the tobacco excise tax by $2. This study uses panel data from a 2014-2020 survey of young adults in SF and Alameda Counties, along with longitudinal tobacco retail audit data and cross-sectional cannabis and vape retailer data, to evaluate changes in the retail landscape between 2014 and 2020 as a result of these policies, and assess whether retail restrictions are associated with reductions in tobacco and vape use, or increases in cannabis use, among young adults.

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