New research in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science reported that banning tobacco products would mean retailers would experience as much as a 4% decline in gross sales.
Titled “What Happens When a Retailer Drops a Product Category? Investigating the Consequences of Ending Tobacco Sales,” the study demonstrated the role of tobacco as a traffic driver to brick-and-mortar stores, and negative microeconomic consequence a ban would have, whether voluntary or not.
“On one hand, the decision by, for example, Dick’s to drop assault weapons from its assortment may affect own- and rival-store patronage and spill over to the sales of other categories. On the other hand, a store’s voluntary decision to end, say, tobacco sales may draw nonsmokers more to its stores and compensate for losses from discontinuing the category,” continues Chintagunta, the Joseph T. and Bernice S. Lewis Distinguished Service Professor of Marketing at the University of Chicago.
“However, in the case of tobacco, our results show the short-term gains for retailers from dropping tobacco do not seem to outweigh the financial losses associated with these actions.” This study only considered the financial aspects of such bans.
A key role of vape shops
An older study focused solely on vape shops, had indicated that these play a key role in supporting smokers who switch to safer alternatives. The study titled, “‘I Felt Welcomed in Like They’re a Little Family in There, I Felt Like I Was Joining a Team or Something’: Vape Shop Customers’ Experiences of E-Cigarette Use, Vape Shops and the Vaping Community,” aimed to understand customers’ experiences of vaping and vape shops, and the extent to which smoking cessation advice is and should be provided in these shops.
The researchers conducted telephone interviews with 22 customers recruited in vape shops in the East Midlands region of England, exploring the participants’ smoking histories, reasons for using e-cigarettes, the role of vape shops in their e-cigarette use, and whether smoking cessation was discussed in vape shops.
The compiled responses indicated that respondents regarded e-cigarettes as a quitting tool and reported very positive experiences of vaping. The participants found vape shops critical to their positive experiences, in that they provided access to a wide variety of high-quality products and reliable product information and advice.
“The shop staff engendered a sense of loyalty in customers which, together with the community of other vapers, created a network that helped to support e-cigarette use. Vape shops were not regarded as a setting in which cessation advice was generally provided but were acknowledged as potentially appropriate places to provide quitting support,” read the study abstract.
This study concluded that vape shops play an important role in tobacco harm reduction, and their potential could be increased “if their service model were to extend to help smokers to quit.”