Welcome to CounterTobacco.org's "News and Research Roundup!" Each month we post a summary of the latest research, reports, and news stories on counteracting tobacco product sales and marketing at the point of sale (POS). Keeping up with what's happening in the POS movement all across the country can help you choose policies and strategies that work best for your community. New research can help provide support for your work and evidence for the importance of the "War in the Store." Have a story you don't want us to miss? E-mail it to us!
This nationally representative survey of over 5,000 U.S. adults found that most adults (72%) had favorable attitudes towards larger warning labels on cigarette packages. For warning labels that covered 25% of the pack, 78.2% of adults and 75.2% of smokers were supportive. For warning labels that covered 50% of the pack, 70% of adults and 58.4% of smokers were supportive, and for warning labels that covered 75% of the pack, 67.9% of adults and 61% of smokers were supportive.
Researchers analyzed 3 sub-brands for whether their users thought they “might be less harmful,” “no different,” or “more harmful” that other brands of cigarettes. Eleven sub-brands had at least 10% of their users report that they might be less harmful, and all of these brands had been marketed with the terms “light” or “mild” prior to implementation of the 2009 Family Smoking and Tobacco Prevention Act prohibition on such descriptors, or they were marked with the terms “additive-free” or “natural.” Two-thirds of American Sprit Mellow and 55% of American Spirit Full-Bodied smokers thought their brand might be less harmful.
Tobacco use has traditionally been higher among adolescents and adults living in rural areas of the United States. The study analyzed data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey from 2011-2014 and found higher rates of current cigarette, smokeless tobacco, multiple tobacco product, and any tobacco use among rural youth. Sociodemographics, cigarette taxes, and exposure to tobacco advertisements predicted 40% of the disparity found in tobacco use rates between urban and rural adolescents However, e-cigarette use among urban adolescents increased from .82% in 2011 to 8.72% in 2014, changing traditional patterns of tobacco use.
While the 2009 Tobacco Control Act banned flavored cigarettes, and required cigarettes to be sold in packs of at least 20, no such regulations were put in place for cigars. Researchers tracked sales data from convenience stores from 2008 to 2015, and they found that cigar companies may have leveraged the newly prohibited features in cigarettes to maximize their profits in other products. Flavored cigar sales increased by nearly 50% since 2008, and now make up over half of the cigar market. Fruit remains the most popular flavor group, but the sale of nondescript flavors such as “Jazz” and “Green” has grown substantially. Inexpensive 2- and 3-packs made up less than 1% of cigar sales in 2008, but by 2015 this packaging style held 40% of the market share. Black & Mild and Swisher Sweets dominate the convenience store channel and together are responsible for nearly 60% of total mass-merchandise cigar sales.
An analysis of 16 tobacco products purchased in NYC in 2015 that did not have explicit flavor names (but were labeled with descriptors such as "blue" or "royale") found that 14 out of the 16 had flavor chemical levels higher than products labeled with a flavor (such as "peach" or "grape"). The researchers conclude that the tobacco industry has renamed flavored products to avoid identifying them as such. They also suggest that the FDA require that all tobacco products indicate when flavorings are present above a set level, which local jurisdictions could then use to enforce sales restrictions on flavored tobacco products.
Exposure to e-cigarette advertisements in the retail setting was associated with higher likelihood of current e-cigarettes use and perception of reduced harmfulness compared to regular cigarettes.
Learn more about e-cigarettes at the point of sale.
This study surveying 6037 students at a large Midwestern university found that 35.7% of students surveyed had seen an advertisement for e-cigarettes at a retail store. This exposure was associated with lower perceived addictiveness of e-cigarettes and with increased belief in acceptability of use in bars, stores, at work, in class, or in dorms. In addition, being white, male, a smoker, having a mother who smoked, and Internet advertisement exposure were associated with lower perceived harm of e-cigarettes. Researchers suggest that e-cigarette advertisements contribute to normalization of e-cigarette use.