Low-income

The Story of Low-income

Communities that are predominantly low-income are highly profitable in the eyes of Big Tobacco, so they target them in hard-hitting ways.  Not only do these neighborhoods have the highest density of stores selling tobacco products,1 but in these communities the tobacco industry also offers the lowest prices on packs of cigarettes and products such as little cigars and cigarillos, which can cost less than a dollar.2 Big Tobacco works to keep an endless supply of cheap and easily accessible  products flowing into these communities to keep people hooked.

Big Tobacco has even handed out free cigarettes to children living in housing projects and tried to issue tobacco discount coupons with food stamps.3 California’s working families need more opportunities, not attempts by Big Tobacco to hook children to deadly products.

  1. 2017 Story of Inequity, Indicator: Density of stores selling tobacco per 1,000 residents by priority population group.
  2. 2017 Story of Inequity, Indicator: Average price for the cheapest pack of cigarettes by priority population group and, Indicator: Average price for a single of the leading brand of flavored little cigar/cigarillo by priority population group.
  3. Tobacco is a Social Justice Issue: Low-Income Communities, January 31, 2017, truth initiative

The Proof is in the Data

[ Data last updated 10/27/2020 ]

Indicator
Low-income
General Population
Adult Tobacco Use
1.Adult Cigarette Use: Adult cigarette smoking prevalenceThe estimate is significantly higher than the California general population.14.8%10.7%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
2.Change in Adult Cigarette Use: Rate of change in adult cigarette smoking, 2014 to 2018-2.6%-13.7%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2013-14. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
3.Adult Tobacco Use: Adult tobacco use prevalence (e.g. cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other vaping products, other tobacco products)22.2%18.8%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2018. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Availability of Tobacco & Tobacco Industry Influence
4.Cheapest Cigarettes: Average price for the cheapest pack of cigarettes$7.18$7.11
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
5.Flavored Little Cigar Price: Average price for a single flavored little cigar/cigarilloThe estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.$0.90$0.97
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2016. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2011-2015. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
6.Tobacco Retail Licensing: Proportion of population protected by a strong tobacco retail licensing law39.1%36.9%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, December 2018. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2013-2017. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
7.Tobacco Stores: Density of stores selling tobacco per 100,000 residentsThe estimate is 10.0 stores per 100,000 higher than the California general population.121.578.0
  • California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer Licensees, May 2020. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
8.Flavored Tobacco: Proportion of stores that sell flavored non-cigarette tobacco products84.2%81.8%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
9.Menthol Cigarettes: Proportion of stores that sell menthol cigarettes89.9%88.3%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
10.Tobacco Advertising: Proportion of stores that keep 90% of their storefront free from any advertising30.3%40.1%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
Cannabis Use
11.Adult Cannabis Use: Adult cannabis use prevalence15.1%16.1%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Secondhand Smoke
12.Adult Secondhand Tobacco Exposure: Proportion of adults exposed to secondhand smoke53.1%52.9%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
13.Smokefree Multi-unit Housing: Proportion of population protected by a smokefree multi-unit housing law24.5%29.0%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, December 2018. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2013-2017. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
14.Smokefree Homes: Proportion of adults with smokefree homes86.4%88.0%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2018. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Cessation
15.California Smokers' Helpline Enrollees: Proportion of California Smokers' Helpline enrolleesMedi-Cal EnrolleesThe estimate is significantly higher than the population’s make-up of California’s adult smokers70.7%43.2%of smokers are
Low-income
  • California Smokers' Helpline Caller Intake Reports, 2019. San Diego, CA: California Smokers' Helpline, University of California, San Diego.
16.Quitting: Proportion of smokers who tried quitting in the last 12 months58.2%56.2%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
17.Doctor Advice to Quit: Proportion of smokers whose doctors advised them to quit47.4%46.8%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

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A Story of Inequity

Tobacco’s Impact on Health Disparities in California

For decades, the tobacco industry has aggressively targeted California’s diverse communities with predatory practices. Internal documents from Big Tobacco outline their strategies – many of which are shocking attempts to peddle deadly products by way of product discounts and manipulative advertising. They even gave away free products to youth in the past. These tactics masquerade as support for communities under the guise of cultural celebration.

Unfortunately, the tactics have worked. Big Tobacco aggressively targeted communities and, as a result, some populations have higher rates of tobacco use, experience greater secondhand smoke exposure at work and at home, and have higher rates of tobacco-related disease than the general population.1

Addressing tobacco-related health inequities is key to California’s efforts to fight tobacco, our state’s number one cause of preventable death and disease.2 Tobacco use, pricing, and its impact across California were analyzed where significant disparities were found across various populations. See how Big Tobacco affects each community in the Nation’s most diverse state.

A Story Of Inequity Methodology >

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Tobacco-Related Disparities
  2. Extinguishing the Tobacco Epidemic in California, April 11, 2017, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention