New CPHSS Report Released: Assessing Retail Environments with STARS

Licensing, Policy Advocacy, Store Assessments

A new report from the Center for Public Health Systems Science (CPHSS), as part of the Advancing Science and Policy in the Retail Environment (ASPiRE) project funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) State & Community Tobacco Control (SCTC) Research Initiative, describes the experience of four states (Oregon, Indiana, Vermont, and Texas) piloting the use of the Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings (STARS). STARS is a user-friendly survey for data collection on price and promotion of tobacco products at the point of sale.

STARSslider_550x350The report, Assessing Retail Environments with STARS: Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings, is the latest in a group of reports and case studies from the ASPiRE project on point-of-sale policy activity across the U.S. Though STARS was released only one year ago, communities in at least half of states are now using the assessment tool to build awareness, compare tobacco’s presence across neighborhoods, and gather evidence to support local and state tobacco control policies. The case studies highlighted in the report provide examples for other state and local tobacco control coalitions considering integrating STARS into their efforts.

Highlights from the four case studies in Assessing Retail Environments with STARS include:

  • STARS builds evidence for policy change. Featured in the report is a crosswalk that connects individual assessment items with relevant point-of-sale policies. The crosswalk helps to narrow down all of the policies and focus on one or two options.
  • Standardization of assessments enables comparisons across communities and over time. While STARS is standardized, it is modifiable. Items to match community-specific concerns can be added.
  • Locals know communities best. They are best-positioned to work out details like engaging retailers and selecting assessors.
  • Identifying each community’s tobacco retailers is key to completing thorough assessments. Tobacco retail licensing, Synar lists, liquor licenses, and local partners are invaluable for this process.

Learn more about using store assessment tools as a way building awareness and document tobacco industry activity in your community. Find more case studies in Stories from the Field.