The Vermont Health Department recently conducted store audits of 767 tobacco retailers state-wide. Working with Counter Tools, they used a modified version of the Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings (STARS) and enlisted youth and community coalition groups to help complete the audits. They wanted to understand more about how the tobacco industry markets products in Vermont, get youth and community groups engaged, and establish baseline data for new initiatives by the state’s CounterBalance Campaign.
Highlights of what they found:
- 85% of stores visited sold at least one kind of flavored tobacco product
- 26% of stores visited displayed interior advertisements below 3ft, right at child eye-level
- 21% of stores visited displayed tobacco products within 12 inches of toys, candy, gum, slushy/soda, or ice cream
- Low-income neighborhoods had twice as many tobacco retailers per 1,000 residents than higher-income residents
- Stores within 1000 ft of schools displayed more exterior advertisements and offered more discounts than other stores
Store assessments can provide powerful data about what’s happening at stores in your community, which can be used to educate the public, policymakers, and youth about Big Tobacco’s deceptive marketing tactics.