This study investigates the associations between local tobacco policy, tobacco outlet density, and youth smoking. A primary focus is on whether local tobacco policy moderates the relation between outlet density and youth smoking.
In all, 1,491 youth (51.9% male, mean age = 14.7 years, standard deviation = 1.05) in 50 midsized California cities were surveyed through a computer-assisted telephone interview. Measures of local clean air policy and youth access policy were created based on a review of tobacco policies in these cities. Outlet density was calculated as the number of retail tobacco outlets per 10,000 persons, and city characteristics were obtained from 2000 U.S. Census data.
Using multilevel regression analyses and controlling for city characteristics, tobacco outlet density was positively associated with youth smoking. No significant main effects were found for the two tobacco policy types on any of the smoking outcomes after controlling for interactions and covariates. However, statistically significant interactions were found between local clean air policy and tobacco outlet density for ever smoked and past 12-month cigarette smoking. Comparisons of simple slopes indicated that the positive associations between tobacco outlet density and youth smoking behaviors were stronger at the lowest level of local clean air policy compared with the moderate and high levels.
Our results suggest that tobacco outlet density is related to youth smoking. In addition, local clean air policy may act as a moderator of relationship between tobacco outlet density and youth smoking, such that density is less important at moderate and high levels of this tobacco policy.