Evaluation of the e-vapor market across Erie and Niagara counties, NY
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Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) commonly referred to as e-cigarettes, e-cigs and e-vapor products were initially promoted and sold online, and in traditional tobacco retail outlets, but have quickly expanded to independent retail specialty shops known as `vape shops'. An estimated 5000 vape shops have opened up in the US selling the most advanced models of e-vapor products that exist in the market. This study looks at the point of sale (POS) marketing of e-vapor products inside various vape shops that have opened up in Erie and Niagara Counties, NY using a survey and publicly available website data. In addition, this study also looks at how the geographic distribution of vape shops is associated with median household income and race/ethnicity. Forty-four shops were surveyed regarding various aspects of POS and 36 publicly available websites were reviewed for other aspects of marketing such as product pricing, nicotine strengths in e-liquids and flavor options. Data analysis was conducted using SPSS looking descriptive statistics, frequencies, Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis tests. This study found no evidence for a positive correlation to vape shop presence and higher Median Household Income or any correlation between the presence of shops and race/ethnicity. Only 14% of the shops had exterior price marketing and 39% had interior price marketing, which included free gifts with a purchase, discounts off of e-liquids, and specials on starter kits. The most widely available flavor categories across all shops were food and fruit. 57% of the shops offered e-liquids with a maximum nicotine strength of 24mg. Over all this study found that the e-vapor market is inconsistent at POS in Erie and Niagara Counties, NY. It is important that regulatory policies limit the amount of nicotine in e-liquids, limit the types and amount of flavors, set minimum age requirements for sale both in shops and online and list ingredients on e-liquid bottles.