News and Events

Tobacco Retailers Near Schools Increase the Risk of Youth Tobacco Use
September 4, 2018

The new Dixie County High School opened for the 2018-19 school year.  The new School is located slightly out of town, right off state highway 19.  The new buildings include classrooms, offices and the new gym.  The Dixie County High School students are very excited to be the first class to start in the new school. 

With the opening of the new school, there are currently no tobacco retailers within a 1,000 feet of a Dixie County School.  The old Dixie County High School buildings were located in Cross City within 1,000 feet of three tobacco retailers.  One of those retailers was charged with selling smokeless tobacco and alcohol to a minor this summer. 

According to the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, the tobacco and nicotine vaping use rate for youth in Dixie County is at 29.9%. Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States, resulting in the premature loss of over 480,000 lives and $289 billion in economic costs annually. The density of tobacco retailers near schools is associated with the tobacco use behaviors of the people who live or study in that neighborhood. One potential mechanism to explain this relationship is that students of high tobacco retailer density areas have greater physical access to tobacco products, and therefore reduced costs, which can increase consumption.  In addition, residents in areas with high retailer density are exposed to more branded advertisements for tobacco products at stores, which can stimulate demand and increase tobacco use.  The US tobacco companies collectively spend over $7 billion each year marketing and promoting tobacco products in retail stores.

Given this compelling evidence, the Institute of Medicine recommends that public health agencies restrict the number and regulate the location of tobacco retailers as a means of reducing tobacco use. The presence of tobacco retailers near schools puts children at particular risk; in school areas with high outlet density, smoking experimentation and prevalence are higher, and students are more likely to report buying their own cigarettes rather than getting them from friends or other sources.

The implementation of policies restricting tobacco sales near schools, would substantially reduce the number and density of tobacco retail outlets and Policy efforts to reduce adolescent smoking should aim to reduce the density of tobacco outlets and retail cigarette advertising in school neighborhoods. This may be achieved through local zoning ordinances, including limiting the proximity of tobacco outlets to schools.

To help build support towards a policy to restrict the sale of tobacco products at 1,000 feet of a Dixie County School please contact Melanie Anderson, Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County.