The tobacco industry spends about $1 million per hour marketing their products at the point of sale.

Store assessments are an essential component in building awareness and documenting tobacco industry activity in your community.

Tobacco marketing, products and promotions saturate retail stores in most communities—the same places where you buy milk, snacks and medicine. Research has shown that exposure to tobacco advertising and promotions prompts smoking initiation, encourages tobacco use and undermines quit attempts. Every day almost 4,000 youth in the U.S. try their first cigarette and an additional 1,000 youth under age 18 become new, daily smokers. 

Store assessments (also referred to as store audits or observations) allow you to collect data about what is happening at the stores in your community and use this information to educate the public, policymakers, and our youth about the deceptive marketing tactics that are used by the tobacco industry. 


About 71% of states conduct or have conducted surveillance at the POS, according to the POS Report to the Nation. This report also highlights Assessing the Retail Environment as a key recommendation to getting started at the point of sale. Find examples of communities conducting store assessments in Stories From the FieldCounter Tools is an example of a public health non-profit that provides training, proprietary software tools, and technical assistance to public health workers who are working on point of sale tobacco control and other retail initiatives through their Store Audit Center and Mapper software.  

 Learn more about the steps involved in conducting store observations of tobacco marketing and products.

Store Assessment ToolsSCTC

The State & Community Tobacco Control Research Initiative (SCTC) has developed a number of tools that can be used to conduct store assessments.  

Check out the list below:  

STARS was designed for practitioners to inform state and local tobacco control policies pertaining to the point of sale. The STARS form and training materials resulted from a collaboration of SCTC researchers with stakeholders from five state health departments, the CDC, and the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. The assessment items (e.g., price, product promotions) were selected exclusively for their policy relevance; no items function as compliance checks for federal regulations. This user-friendly survey can be filled out by professionally trained data collectors, as well as self-trained youth and adults. The STARS survey and accompanying training materials can be downloaded from the button below. 

vSTARS was developed in response to a STARS user survey where further information on vape shops was requested. This instrument, structured similarly to the original STARS, assesses different aerosolizing devices sold within vape shops, product availability of various liquid or loose-leaf psychoactive substances, sampling of flavors, health messaging, and price promotions. Learn more about vSTARS