Counter Tools and Truth Initiative partnered in 2018 to develop a set of retail tobacco store assessment questions specifically focused on menthol and other flavored commercial tobacco products as an additional module to the Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings (STARS) form. This set of questions was piloted in two cities within Tobacco Nation in order to field-test the questions and to facilitate the cities’ consideration of flavor-based policies and other point-of-sale tobacco control policies. Following the initial pilot, the form was revised to reflect the evolving market for flavored e- cigarette products, to be able to better compare flavored and non-flavored products, and to compare local data with national trends in disparities in the availability and marketing of flavored products. The revised form was tested again in three cities, two of which were within Tobacco Nation.

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Getting Started:

  • Download and print the fSTARS survey form, or contact Counter Tools for additional assistance with the store assessment process and an online version of the tool
  • Identify a sample of stores. This may be a group of stores that is convenient for you and your data collectors to reach (e.g., all stores within 1 mile of school). It may also be a random sample of licensed tobacco retailers or you might have access to a statistician who can draw a sample of stores for you. There is no right or wrong way to select your sample.
  • Identify your data collectors. You may be the only data collector or you may have professionally-trained or volunteer data collectors, either adults or youth.
  • Train yourself and your data collectors. Review the Training PowerPoint as a group (e.g. live presentation/webinar) or individually. Become familiar with the questions and products reviewed in the training materials. If youth data collectors are used, it may be helpful to role play the clerk/data collector interaction.
  • Collect data using fSTARS. Send your data collectors into stores with the fSTARS survey. Note: We recommend adult supervision in stores when using youth data collectors.Once data collection is complete, use a program like Excel to enter the data, view outputs, and analyze findings. Or, contact Counter Tools for assistance with data collection and management through a mobile platform.
  • Disseminate your findings to stakeholders and data collectors.
  • Follow-up with fSTARS developers. We would love to hear about your experience using fSTARS and your findings! is a project of Counter Tools. Counter Tools (logo)
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