News and Events

Surveillance of Point-of Purchase Tobacco Advertising and Placement in Local Businesses, Dixie County, Florida
by Barry Hummel, Jr., MD, Co-Founder, Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation, August 2010

During the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year, surveillance was conducted to evaluate point-of-purchase tobacco advertising and product placement in Dixie County, Florida.  Our core concern is the level of tobacco advertising and the amount of self-service tobacco to which youth are exposed in the local community. 

We were particularly concerned about the amount of tobacco advertising seen by Dixie County middle and high school students.  As a result, we focused our survey to potential tobacco retailers within a 3-mile radius of all Dixie County public school campuses.

To conduct the survey, QDREF utilized the StoreALERT report card; this method was developed as part of a national study, and is currently monitored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  The StoreALERT survey looks at both exterior and interior advertising (see attached).  The StoreALERT program also provides training materials to allow participation by volunteers.

QDREF also conducted training sessions to recruit volunteers from the two Dixie County SWAT clubs (Dixie County High School, Ruth Rains Middle School) to participate in the study.

Using the Google search engine, QDREF staff compiled a list of potential businesses from each of the following categories:

These businesses were chosen based on the criteria of the StoreALERT Survey.  22 individual businesses in Cross City and Old Town were identified using this method. 

SWAT Youth and QDREF staff visited all 19 of the 22 stores identified to be within 3 miles of one of public schools in Dixie County. 

Overall, among all stores surveyed within 3 miles of public schools, 78.9% received a grade of “D” or “F”, meaning these retail stores had a significant amount of tobacco advertising.

All Stores - Grades

Convenience stores, gas stations, and combined stores were the worst offenders.  100% of these types of stores received a grade of “D” or “F”!

For comparison, we lumped together all of the remaining tobacco retailers in the survey (grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, liquor stores, general stores, etc.).  Only 33.4% of these stores received a grade of “D” or “F”, and 50% received a grade of “A”.

Other Stores - Grades

This highlights the issue of tobacco advertising.  It is primarily an issue in convenience stores.  These are the very stores in which teenagers tend to shop.

Next we looked at two key indicators.  The first is tobacco advertising located outside of the retail outlet.  This is important because it affects the entire community, not just the individuals shopping in the stores.  Here is the summary of outdoor tobacco advertising among all tobacco retailers in Dixie County. 57.9% of all tobacco retailers had some level of outdoor tobacco advertising, and 15.8% of those retailers had an overwhelming level of tobacco advertising.

All Stores -  Outdoor ads

Again, to highlight the difference among the types of stores, we broke the results down into two categories:  Convenience stores and gas stations vs. all other tobacco retailers.

Here are the results looking at outdoor tobacco advertising among convenience stores and gas stations.  Only 15.4% of convenience stores chose not to place outdoor tobacco advertising on their property.

Convenience Stores - Outdoor ads

Again, for comparison, here is the summary of outdoor advertising among all other tobacco retailers.  Here, 100% of retailers chose not to place outdoor tobacco advertisements on their property:

Other Stores - Outdoor ads

Finally, we focused on self-service tobacco as a key indicator of youth tobacco access.  Self service tobacco makes it easier for youth to make tobacco purchases, or to simply steal tobacco in order to start and maintain tobacco addiction.

Below is a summary of self-service tobacco among all tobacco retailers in Dixie County.  36.8% of all tobacco retailers in Dixie County currently offer self-service tobacco.

All Stores - Self Service Tobacco

Again, we decided to compare convenience stores and gas stations against all other tobacco retailers.  Below is a summary of those convenience stores and gas stations that sell self-service tobacco. 38.5% of convenience stores offer self-service tobacco.

Convenience Stores - Self Service Tobacco

This is statistically similar to other tobacco retailers in Dixie County, Where 33.3% of retailers offer self-service tobacco in Dixie County. 

Other Stores - Self Service Tobacco

This is unusually high compared to other communities (such as the adjacent Gilchrist County), and confirms the need to address the issue of self-service tobacco through an ordinance requiring retailer-assisted tobacco sales.  

Surveillance to evaluate the extent of point-of-purchase advertising and tobacco placement in local tobacco retailers was conducted in Dixie County during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.  The study focused on potential tobacco retailers within 3 miles of public school campuses.

The results showed that 78.9% of all stores surveyed within a 3 mile radius of public schools had a significant amount of tobacco advertising.  Convenience stores, gas stations, and combined gas/convenience stores were the worst offenders, with 100% of those combined stores displaying a significant amount of tobacco advertising.

Given the influence of advertising, including tobacco advertising, on children and teens, this data shows a clear need to pursue local ordinances or zoning restriction to limit the scope of tobacco advertising in Dixie County retailers.  Another approach might be to limit the number, density, or location of these tobacco retailers.

A second area of the surveillance focused on tobacco placement.  36.8% of all tobacco retailers offered self-service tobacco, and there was no significant difference among store types.  This data demonstrates quite clearly that it would be in the best interest of the Partnership to pursue an ordinance mandating retailer-assisted tobacco sales within Dixie County.