Retail Stores as Recruitment Centers

Posted by  //  January 20, 2015  //  Articles

Retail is important to public health advocates because retail is VERY important to the tobacco industry.  Tobacco companies now spend the vast majority of their advertising and promotional dollars (nearly $500,000 a day in New York State) at the point of sale, competing for customer hearts and minds.

Heavy spending on marketing and promotions at and near the store checkout buys the tobacco companies many things – brand recognition, brand preference, tobacco product cravings and unplanned purchases, fewer successful quit attempts, perceived norms of higher smoking prevalence, and increased initiation and continuation of tobacco use, especially by youth. Our young people are viewed as an important age group to fuel the tobacco companies’ futures.  While there are several factors that contribute to adolescent smoking, tobacco advertising and promotion at retail stores is undoubtedly one of the most significant.

Chances are, if we can stop kids from lighting up before their 18th birthday, we can prevent so many lives from suffering and dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases. Furthermore, the earlier a person uses tobacco, the more likely he or she will experiment with cocaine, heroin and other drugs. The good news is that there are proven methods to prevent tobacco use from claiming yet another generation.

One such measure, and gaining momentum in New York State, is for local municipalities to adopt local licensing regulations that prevent tobacco sales, as well smoking paraphernalia/device sales, near school property.  Tobacco marketing and sales in stores close to schools is of particular concern because of the increased exposure of pro-tobacco messages and environmental cues as students pass by or shop at these stores. Documents obtained from tobacco companies show evidence that corporate marketers have targeted convenience stores, grocery stores, and other tobacco vendors near schools and playgrounds in an effort to attract young smokers. As a result, youth are more likely to use tobacco, as well as purchase, when stores are located within a short distance of their schools.

Cortland County is poised to take further steps in addressing substance abuse in our communities. Licensing is a powerful tool that can help minimize pro-drug messaging and help to reduce youth and adult tobacco use.

For more information contact Jennifer Hamilton with Tobacco Free Cortland @ (607)-758-5501 or jhamilton@cortland-co.org, as well as www.tobaccofreenys.org.

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