Kids who shop in stores with tobacco marketing, such as gas stations and convenience stores, are 64% more likely to start smoking than their friends who don’t. (1) What specifically is going on in these stores to cause this difference in risk?
Tobacco companies pay $27.1 Million annually, in Montana alone, (2) to concentrate their products and branded images at the point of sale of our local stores. (3) It works! Here, all shoppers, regardless of age or smoking status, are exposed to pro-smoking messages.
Point of sale advertising is powerful! Think about it… every purchase is conducted at the cash register; the one unavoidable area of the store. From a very young age, we are held captive to hundreds of images and messages promoting positive feelings to associate with different products. Here, we form lifelong relationships with brands; Coke, Pepsi, Lays, Extra, Marlboro, Camel, Budweiser. Unfortunately, most of the time, these products are the least healthy if not downright damaging to our health.
Tobacco corporations specifically study the behavior and trends of teens and disproportionately promote tobacco products with these same values and likes. In fact, the majority of Gallatin County tobacco retailers currently promote brands more popular among teens (than adults) such as Grizzly Chew, camel snus, and Marlboro Reds. If the majority of adults do not choose Grizzly, Marlboro, or Camel brands, and the store “is not selling to kids”, what would incentivize the shop owner to heavily promote them? Tobacco corporations do.
Big Tobacco monetarily incentivizes local store owners to place branded products and advertisements in strategic locations. Knowing teens are brand loyal and price sensitive, tobacco companies pay “slotting fees” for specific advertising and product placement. Their purpose: to attract and addict young customers and trigger addiction cravings in those who have used in the past. Discounts are even more prevalent in stores closest to schools. The lowest price for a tin of Camel Snus in Gallatin County can be found within 1000 ft of Bozeman High School.
Don’t forget the flavored tobacco products packaged to look like candy and often placed near or among the cash register candy display; sure to attract a child’s attention.
You can be part of the solution!
1) Explore this map that shows tobacco point of sale marketing across Montana: http://dphhs.mt.gov/Portals/85/Documents/MTUPPapp/index.html#map. Ask yourself, how might retailer density or location affect tobacco use in Gallatin County? How close are these retailers to a school? What local retailers would be willing to replace tobacco advertising and sales with a healthy alternative? What can you do to sway their decision?
2) The next time you fill your gas tank or get groceries; notice where the flashy colorful e-cigarettes and flavored cigars are “conveniently” placed. Are tobacco advertisements or products visible? Are the cigarettes and chew in a colorful lit display? Support the retailers with little or no tobacco advertising!
3) Support friends and family in their attempts to quit tobacco use. The Montana Tobacco Quit Line 1(800) QUIT-NOW is a proven solution to nicotine addiction.
4) Find out more by visiting Healthy Gallatin’s tobacco prevention page: http://healthygallatin.org/diseases-conditions/tobacco-use-and-prevention-2/.
(1) Henriksen, Schleicher, Feighery and Fortmann. Pediatrics: The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, July 19, 2010. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009 3021
(2) Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. The Toll of Tobacco in Montana Fact Sheet. http://www.tobaccofreekids.
(3) Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Cigarette Report for 2011, 2013, http://www.ftc.gov/os/2013/05/