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Southern California Vape Shop Reactions to New Policies

Institution: University of Southern California
Investigator(s): Steven Sussman, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2017 (Cycle 26) Grant #: 26IR-0016 Award: $495,000
Subject Area: State and Local Tobacco Control Policy Research
Award Type: High Impact Research Project Award

Initial Award Abstract

Vape shops—stores that sell e-cigarettes and related paraphernalia—have proliferated in California and much of the United States. The extent to which vape shops contribute to the uptake of e-cigarette use by nonsmokers, youth, and other vulnerable populations remains unknown. Recent California and Federal regulations are intended to change the operations of vape shops, including raising the purchasing age to 21, posting age-of-sale warning signs, prohibiting free samples in vape shops, prohibiting modifying devices due to not being a manufacturer, and prohibiting self-service displays. Now that these policies have gone into effect, it is imperative that we determine how vape shop operations, their employees, and their customers are changing their knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior in response to these policies. One goal of the proposed study is to examine changes in the knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, operations, locations, and policy compliance of 61 Southern California vape shops subsequent to recent e-cigarette policy changes in California. Our research team is in a unique position to assess these changes because we have alreay collected two waves of data from vape shops which will form the baseline for comparison purposes: Wave 1 was conducted before any anti-vaping reports or campaigns were published or aired. Wave 2 was conducted after publication and dissemination of the California Department of Public Health report on e-cigarettes, and airing of the California Department of Public Health anti-vaping media campaign, but before State and Federal policy enactment (n=61 shops; 16 had closed). Since Wave 2, there have been dramatic changes in State and Federal e-cigarette policies. In addition, shops in the previous two waves of collection were blocked by ethnic community location; that is, an equal number of shops were selected from relatively high percentage African American, Korean, White, and Hispanic locations in Southern California. Differences were examined. However, the sample sizes for comparisons by ethnic community location were too low to detect several differences. Some interesting trends were found, as outlined in the proposal. We will conduct a third wave of data collection to document how vape shops have responded to the new policies. The proposed third wave of data collection will provide a unique opportunity to assess knowledge of and beliefs about the new policies, attitudes about and intention to comply with the new policies, and changes in vape shop operations (e.g., sales, number of flavors offered) and compliance behaviors in response to State and Federal policy enactment, and possibly corresponding changes in local policies (e.g., placing limits on number of vape shops permitted in the municipality, zoning). In addition, we will recruit a new, additional cohort of 60 vape shops in Southern California (total N now will be 121 shops) to increase statistical power and better address questions pertaining to marketing and policy compliance among ethnically diverse vulnerable populations (i.e., African American, Korean, White, and Hispanic ethnic community locations; a total of approximately 30 shops per type of ethnic community location).