Increased Odds of Quitting Smoking When Distance To Store Increased Interview with:

Anna Pulakka PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher Department of Public Health University of Turku, Finland

Dr. Anna Pulakka

Anna Pulakka PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Public Health
University of Turku, Finland What is the background for this study?

Response: Smoking is the one of the leading health risks globally. Finland, among some other countries, has set a target for a tobacco-free society by 2040. However, with the current rate of decline in smoking prevalence, the target will not be met. It is therefore important to explore new avenues for helping people to quit smoking.

Recently, researchers have become more interested in availability of tobacco as one determinant for smoking habit. We have learned from cross-sectional studies that people who live in neighborhoods with many stores that sell tobacco, smoke more than those who have less tobacco stores in their neighborhood. What has been lacking is more robust evidence from longitudinal studies on the association between availability of tobacco in neighborhoods and smoking behaviours. We sought to determine whether change in the location of tobacco stores nearby people’s place of residence was associated with the odds of quitting smoking or smoking relapse in a longitudinal setting. What are the main findings?

Response: We found increased odds of quitting smoking when the distance from home to the nearest tobacco store increased. In our two cohorts of smokers, those who either moved further away from a tobacco store or whose closest tobacco store closed down during the follow-up period were more likely to quit than those who constantly lived close by a tobacco store.

However, we did not find evidence for an association between closeness of a tobacco store and relapsing smoking in ex-smokers. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings show that reducing availability of tobacco products increases success in quitting in smokers. These results support a more general principle for prevention: “Make the healthier choice the easier choice”. Reduced availability of tobacco products can help people to quit smoking and is therefore one possible option for policymakers when looking into ways to make neighborhoods healthier. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It would be interesting to see if the same findings could be replicated in another context. Different countries have different laws regarding selling and advertising tobacco. In Finland, for example, advertising of tobacco is prohibited, even within the stores that sell tobacco. Thus, our results are not necessarily generalizable to countries where tobacco is more visibly on display. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


upcoming JAMA publication:

Association Between Distance From Home to Tobacco Outlet and Smoking Cessation and Relapse

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on August 15, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD