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Am J Public Health. 2009 Sep;99(9):1699-704. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.149260. Epub 2009 Jul 28.

Disparities in access to over-the-counter nicotine replacement products in New York City pharmacies.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY, USA. steven.bernstein@yale.edu



We surveyed the availability of tobacco products and nonprescription nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in pharmacies in New York City, stratified by the race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES) of the surrounding neighborhoods to determine whether disparities in availability existed.


Surveyors visited a random sample of retail pharmacies to record the availability of tobacco products and nonprescription NRT. We used census data and geographic information systems analysis to determine the SES of each neighborhood. We used logistic modeling to explore relations between SES and the availability of NRT and tobacco products.


Of 646 pharmacies sampled, 90.8% sold NRT and 46.9% sold cigarettes. NRT and cigarettes were slightly more available in pharmacies in neighborhoods with a higher SES. NRT was more expensive in poorer neighborhoods.


Small disparities existed in access to nonprescription NRT and cigarettes. The model did not adequately account for cigarette access, because of availability from other retail outlets. These results may explain some of the excess prevalence of cigarette use in low-SES areas.

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