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Socioeconomic area disparities in tobacco retail outlet density: a Western Australian analysis

While Australia has been applauded internationally for its lead on plain packaging for cigarettes1 and, previously, for being at the forefront of tough tobacco advertising restrictions, tobacco remains as readily available as dietary staples like bread and milk. There are an estimated 35 000 tobacco retail outlets in Australia,2 and two states (Queensland and Victoria) do not even require a licence to sell tobacco. The pervasive availability of tobacco products is at stark odds with the harm caused by tobacco2 and with the progress that has been made in most other areas of tobacco control.

In public health more broadly, there is growing research and policy interest in the relative availability of unhealthy products (ie, tobacco, alcohol, fast food) in more socio-economically disadvantaged areas. A number of United States studies have reported higher densities of tobacco outlets in neighbourhoods with lower socioeconomic status (SES),35 or in areas with lower household incomes and a greater proportion of residents from minority groups.68 By contrast, the only published Australian study on this subject to date found no relationship between SES and tobacco outlet density…