Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) have emerged in the US market, with use and awareness rapidly increasing in recent years, particularly in young adults. While ENDS may facilitate harm reduction in smokers, ENDS represent significant health risks, including addiction in the nicotine-nave (e.g., young adults). From a socioecologic perspective, the literature regarding tobacco retail indicates that place characteristics such as neighborhood demography and policy context influence retailer location and marketing, and these factors impact individual tobacco use. However, this literature is in its infancy in regard to ENDS and particularly to vape shops, which are stores exclusively devoted to ENDS sales. Vape shops have proliferated in the US and are unique in their product offerings, marketing, and overall retail environment (e.g., tasting bars). Vape shops, as well as the 2nd and 3rd generation ENDS they sell, have particular appeal to young adults. A particularly important and timely macro-level factor that may impact ENDS use and distribution channels is the impending FDA Deeming Regulation on ENDS and other tobacco products. The Deeming Regulation involves a range of policies implemented in the next 3 years (e.g., mandatory age verification and prohibiting free samples beginning in Aug 2016, mandatory health warning labels effective Aug 2018, manufacturers required to submit a new tobacco product application by Aug 2018, etc.). These regulations are likely to impact vape shop survival as well as their marketing and the overall vape shop experience, given young adults are the biggest segment of vape shop clientele (who will require ID), the social experience of tasting bars (which will no longer be allowed), and the history of ENDS being promoted as safe and for cessation or harm reduction (with products and ads requiring health warnings). A well-integrated program of research is needed to examine the multilevel impact of regulation on ENDS retailers, as well as on ENDS marketing, specifically among vape shops, given that they are a unique retail settings that have a particular impact on young adult ENDS use. Leveraging a Socioecological Framework, we will draw data from 6 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) representing the CDC-defined regions and the gradient of tobacco control in order to address 3 inter-related aims: 1) examine density and survival of vape shops over time and across contexts in relation to FDA regulation, local policies, and other sociocontextual factors (e.g., neighborhood context, density/proximity of convenience stores); 2) examine vape shop marketing and POS practices (e.g., age verification, free sampling, health warnings) over time and across contexts in relation to FDA regulation, local policies, and other sociocontextual factors (e.g., neighborhood context, density/proximity of convenience stores); and 3) examine young adult ENDS use over time and across contexts in relation to spatial access to vape shops and convenience stores, ENDS advertising exposure, local policies, and sociocontextual factors. This research will document the impact of regulation on this industry and provide an evidence base for legislation regarding zoning and vape shop marketing/POS practices to protect high-risk populations. We will disseminate findings with an explicit focus on informing public health policy and practice regarding ENDS, as well as future research.
The use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) has rapidly increased in the US, particularly in young adults; likewise, vape shops have proliferated in the US but have been the focus of limited research relative to other tobacco retailers. From a socioecologic perspective, the literature regarding tobacco retail indicates that place characteristics such as neighborhood demography and policy context influence retailer location and marketing, and these factors impact individual tobacco use; additionally, a particularly important macro-level factor that may impact tobacco use, including ENDS use, as well as distribution channels is the impending FDA Deeming Regulation, which involves a range of policies implemented in the next 3 years (e.g., prohibiting free samples). This study will examine the impact of regulation and place characteristics on vape shop survival, marketing, and point-of-sale practices and the impact of these factors on young adult ENDS use over time in 6 metro areas; these data will be critical in informing future ENDS-related regulation.