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Tob Induc Dis. 2018 Oct;16. pii: 47. doi: 10.18332/tid/94600.

ENDS retailers and marketing near university campuses with and without tobacco-free policies.

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Public Health Institute, 555 12 Street 10 Floor, Oakland, CA 94607
Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford School of Medicine, 3300 Hillview Avenue, suite 120, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.



This study characterizes the retail environment for Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) near public universities in California, assesses marketing in the first random sample of ENDS retailers, and compares ENDS retailer density and retail marketing near campuses with and without tobacco-free policies.


Two data sources were used to construct a sampling frame of possible ENDS retailers, which were mapped within 1 to 4 miles of the 33 University of California and California State University campuses. To assess retailer density, a telephone survey of possible ENDS retailers (n=1186) determined which sold e-cigarettes or e-liquids (completion rate=72.9%). To assess retail marketing, trained data collectors completed observations in a random sample (n=438, M=13.3 stores per campus, SD=11.2) in fall 2015.


In a telephone survey, 59.1% of retailers reported selling e-cigarettes or e-liquids. Half of the campuses had 10 or more ENDS retailers nearby. Most ENDS retailers were convenience stores (42.5%), and more were head shops (8.4%) than smoke shops (6.8%) or vape shops (6.2%). Nearly half (43.6%) of ENDS retailers sold products marketed as zero-nicotine and 13.9% sold NRT. ENDS advertising was visible in 72.1% and on the exterior of 28.1% of retailers. However, the presence of exterior advertising for ENDS was significantly lower near campuses with established tobacco-free policies than campuses with recent or no tobacco-free policies (OR=0.45, 95% CI=0.22, 0.94).


The large number of tobacco retailers that sell ENDS near colleges suggests a need for better monitoring and regulations of ENDS availability and marketing. The widespread availability of zero-nicotine products suggests a need to examine whether nicotine-free products are as advertised and safe to use. Longitudinal research is needed to understand how retail marketing for ENDS responds to change in tobacco-free policies at nearby campuses.


ENDS retail marketing; electronic cigarettes; tobacco-free college campuses; young adults

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of Interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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