An UNDO Project
Last Updated: 3/10/2023
A man sitting on a stool in a dark space next to a conveyor belt dropping off cigarette cartridgesA man sitting on a stool in a dark space next to a conveyor belt dropping off cigarette cartridges

Low-income

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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.

The proof is in the data

[Data last updated March 2023 ]
Indicator
Low-income
General Population
Adult tobacco use
1. Adult cigarette use: Adult cigarette smoking prevalence
9.8%
The estimate is significantly higher than the California general population.
6.7%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
2. Change in adult cigarette use: Rate of change in adult cigarette smoking, 2014 to 2020
-35.5%
The 2020 estimate is significantly lower than the 2014 estimate.
-46.4%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. 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)
14.4%
The estimate is significantly higher than the California general population.
11.3%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. 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
$6.90
$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/cigarillo
$0.90
The estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.
$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 law
60.3%
59.5%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, April 2021. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2015-2019. 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 residents
122
The estimate is 10.0 stores per 100,000 higher than the California general population.
77
  • California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer Licensees, November 2021. 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 products
84.2%
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 cigarettes
89.9%
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 advertising
30.3%
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.
Secondhand smoke
11. Adult secondhand tobacco exposure: Proportion of adults exposed to secondhand smoke or vape
38.1%
The estimate is significantly higher than the California general population.
35.2%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
12. Smoke-free multi-unit housing: Proportion of population protected by a smoke-free multi-unit housing law
64.7%
66.7%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, April 2021. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2015-2019. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
13. Smoke-free homes: Proportion of adults with smoke-free homes
91.3%
91.8%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Cessation
14. Quitting: Proportion of smokers who tried quitting in the last 12 months
59.1%
55.6%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
15. Doctor advice to quit: Proportion of smokers whose doctors advised them to quit
59.1%
55.6%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Kick It California
Percent of enrollees
Percent of smokers
16. Kick It California enrollees: Proportion of Kick It California enrollees
63.8%
The estimate is significantly higher than the population’s make-up of California’s adult smokers.
30.3%
of smokers are Low-income
  • California Smokers’ Helpline Caller Intake Reports, 2020. San Diego, CA: California Smokers’ Helpline, University of California, San Diego.
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. 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 >