University of Florida researchers tie rising smoking rates to dollar stores

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- University of Florida researchers released a study that ties increasing rates of smoking in the Southeastern U.S. to the increased availability of tobacco in dollar stores.

The study compared smoking statistics from the years 2011-12 and 2015-16.

In 2012, Family Dollar and Dollar General began selling tobacco in their stores. Researchers say the increased availability of tobacco seems to have directly affected smoking rates.

"It is clear that a very large corporation can have very large impacts on the health of communities by their decisions," said UF Assistant Research Scientist Jaclyn Hall.

Researchers say the changes were most noticeable in lower-income communities.

"Tobacco control efforts over the last 50 years were bringing smoking rates down until 2015," Hall said. "Now those rates have stagnated."