Do cigarette prices near secondary schools vary by area-level socioeconomic status? Findings from a field study in Ontario and Québec, Canada
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OBJECTIVES: To examine, in the context of youth smoking, whether cigarette prices near secondary schools varied by area-level socioeconomic status in Southwestern and Central Ontario, and the greater Montréal region. METHODS: We collected cigarette prices four times between 2016 and 2019 from stores near secondary schools and used mixed-effects and ordinary least squares regressions. RESULTS: We found consistent evidence that cigarette prices near secondary schools were lower in neighbourhoods with lower area-level household income, and that differences were large enough to be meaningful. In Ontario and Québec, our results indicate a Can$0.26 [0.04, 0.47] to Can$0.51 [0.33, 0.69] and Can$0.10 [-0.04, 0.24] to Can$0.37 [0.22, 0.52] difference in prices for a pack of 25 cigarettes between neighbourhoods with a median household income standard deviation below/above the provincial median, respectively. CONCLUSION: Policy changes that limit area-level cigarette price differences without lowering cigarette prices may reduce inequities in youth smoking.