News and Events

Tobacco Free Partnership Evaluates Point-of-Sale Tobacco Marketing in Local Retail Outlets
May 17, 2017

The Tobacco Free Partnership has been elbow deep in the retail realm of the tobacco industry the past few quarters. With over 100 store audits assigned throughout Highlands County, stores were surveyed and the data collected has been processed and recorded into the Florida Tobacco Mapper. Phase two has begun in this process, and the Tobacco Free Partnership has completed its needs assessment based on the data collected.

Among the findings, it was discovered that:

Additionally, according to the store mapper, NONE of the retailers in Highlands County are located within 300 feet of schools or parks. However, 9% are within 1000 feet and 50% are within ½ mile of schools or parks.

Tobacco Retailer Locations in Highlands County

The TFP has identified several avenues to explore when moving forward with regulation of tobacco marketing at the retail point-of-sale in the future. The next septs include;

The Partnership is grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Counter Tools and the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida on this project and look forward to making changes that will benefit the youth and community members in Highlands County. 

Taking this data into mind, the Partnership wants to reiterate why this is so important for the community. There are four main reasons why we should be concerned about the problem of tobacco in the retail environment. The first, is spending by the tobacco industry on marketing, promotions and advertising in the retail environment, specifically.  Despite the fact, that every consumer product wants to be at the checkout area, the tobacco industry dominates this space. Every customer, young or old, smoker, non-smoker, or successful quitter, who visits the store is exposed and cued by an excess of advertising for tobacco products—and the products themselves.

Youth Tobacco Use initiation is the second reason we need to be concerned. Young people are frequent convenience store shoppers and many studies have shown that these have more tobacco marketing materials than other store types. All studies point to the same thing: the marketing and branding in the store environment WORKS to build a relationship with kids, and kids start smoking as a result of exposure to retail tobacco marketing.

The third reason we are concerned is because retail tobacco displays make quit attempts more difficult. For adults who are considering quitting or have recently quit, when they see cigarette pack displays, they react with wanting to buy cigarettes and some of them make impulse purchases.

The final reason we are concerned is because retailer density and proximity are important in helping understand the negative environmental and community impact of tobacco retailers. Research has determined links between retailer density in the area around a school and smoking prevalence in the school. We see that when there is a higher density of retailers within walking distance, the school has higher smoking rates. Additionally, residential proximity to a tobacco retailer is correlated with a smokers’ ability to remain tobacco-free after quitting.

“Retail point of sale is designed to attract new tobacco users, discourage quitting, and create a normative environment and by conducting tobacco retail store audits, analyzing the data and creating a needs assessment the Tobacco Free Partnership is on its way to making positive changes throughout Highlands County,” said Amanda John, Community Health Advocate for QuitDoc Foundation.

For more information on tobacco marketing at the retail point-of-sale, what you can do to help, or to join our email list, please email