Tobacco Companies Shift to In-Store Advertising
CHICAGO (Reuters Health) - Tobacco advertisements and displays in stores are increasingly common and often in areas that are easily viewed by children, according to presentations at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health, held in Chicago, Illinois
Dr. Kurt Ribisl of the University of North Carolina, along with colleagues at Stanford University, studied tobacco marketing items in 115 stores in California. The average store had 17 signs, displays and other items showing tobacco brand names.
Ribisl reported that stores that received incentive payments from tobacco companies displayed significantly more items. The incentive payments averaged more than $2,000 per year. Tobacco companies ``spend more money on retail outlets than in any other setting,'' Ribisl said.
The recent legal settlement with states ended tobacco billboard advertising in the United States, but the companies just re-directed their spending, according to Leslie Zellers of the Technical Legal Assistance Center in Oakland, California.
``In California and other states, after the settlement agreement went into place and billboards came down, the tobacco companies started shifting all their resources to inside the store,'' she said.
Many of the tobacco displays are placed near candy or less than 3 feet from the floor, where anti-tobacco activists say they are most easily viewed by children. Susan Walters of the Vista Community Clinic studied an effort in Oceanside, California to get retailers to voluntarily remove these tobacco displays and signs. In return, cooperative retailers received positive publicity in ads at movie theaters, public service announcements and brochures. However, of 30 stores approached, only 12 agreed to participate, and by the end of the 18-month intervention, Walters said, only 9 stores were still in compliance.
Nevertheless, Walters said their intervention succeeded in a way, by convincing city officials that the only way to get rid of tobacco signs near candy or child eye-level was through regulation.