Background Most smokers begin using tobacco before the age of 18. In China, the prevalence of experimental smoking among adolescents aged between 13–15 was 12.9% (2019). Greater access to tobacco retail has been identified as a major cause of earlier smoking initiation amongst this age group. This study examined the distribution of tobacco retailers around public schools in Shanghai, China, determining whether there was evidence of retailer clustering around schools and whether there is evidence of non-compliance with the spatial restriction prohibiting tobacco retail within 50m from school areas.
Methods Tobacco retailers (n=19,413) were extracted from a web-scrapped Points of Interest database in 2019. Using GIS analysis, for all public schools (n=1483) across Shanghai, the distribution of tobacco retailers around the main entrance of public schools were calculated using the number and proportion of tobacco retailers within 5 and 10-min walking road network distances around public schools. The degrees of clustering of tobacco retailers within 5 and 10-min walking distances from public schools were determined using multitype K-function. The non-compliance with spatial restriction was examined using the proportion of public schools with at least one tobacco retailer around. The stratified analysis was also carried out by types of schools, levels of urbanity, and school deprivation, and types of tobacco retailers.
Results Within 10-min walking distance, 95.8% of public schools were exposed to tobacco retail, 59.99% of all tobacco retailers were in the vicinity of a school. Greater proportions of tobacco retailers were found around primary schools (45.9%) and schools in more urbanised areas (97.3%). Significant spatial clustering of tobacco retailers was found around public schools within 5 and 10-min walking distance with higher degrees of clustering around high schools and secondary schools, while the clustering pattern of tobacco retailers around public schools was insignificant in more urbanised areas. 5.87% of public schools were exposed to non-compliant tobacco retailers. A greater proportion of primary schools (6.8%) were found with non-compliant tobacco retailers compared to high schools (3.98%) and secondary schools (2.1%). 12.19% of public schools in more urbanised areas were exposed to non-compliant tobacco retailers. Differences in levels of school deprivation were insignificant. Among types of tobacco retailers around school areas, the convenience store was the most available type.
Conclusion Tobacco retail availability within walking distances from public schools of Shanghai was high, particularly in more urbanised areas. The current spatial restriction on tobacco retail around public school areas is proving insufficient to protect adolescents.
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