Study: Store Tobacco Ads Near Schools Impact Teen Tobacco Use, Choices

(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – Tobacco point-of-sale advertising, particularly in retailers surrounding schools, is associated with youth tobacco use.

This information series is brought to you by the Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition.

A new study, “Changes in Tobacco Product Advertising at Point of Sale: 2015-2018,” in the June 2020 Pediatrics (published online May 21), found changes observed for each product’s advertising reflect national youth use rates of each tobacco product: cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes.

For example, e-cigarette advertising both inside and outside of retailers declined through 2017, but began to increase in 2018. National Youth Tobacco Survey data shows that e-cigarette use among high school students dropped from 16% in 2015 to 11.7% in 2017, but increased by 78% in 2018 to reach 20.8%. Researchers visited 141 licensed tobacco retailers operating within a half-mile buffer of 41 randomly selected New Jersey high schools starting in 2015 and returning through 2018 to track the presence of ads on the exterior and interior of the stores.

Cigarettes were advertised on the outside of more than half of the visited tobacco retailers. Chain convenience stores had the most exterior tobacco advertising compared to all other types of stores, and these chain stores were the primary drivers of exterior tobacco advertising near schools.

Researchers concluded that youth are affected by exposure to tobacco ads at point of sale, but additional research in other parts of the country or at a national level could lead to more robust conclusions about how store tobacco ads impact US youth, building evidence for regulatory efforts to minimize youth exposure to tobacco marketing, and ultimately reduce youth tobacco use.

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