New data reveals that Colusa County stores have 10 times more exterior advertising for unhealthy products than for healthy products such as milk or fruit and vegetables. These findings are part of new data released today on the availability and marketing of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy and healthy food products in stores that sell tobacco-the first time all three categories of products have been analyzed together.
Health advocates up and down the state released the survey results today, with 13 press events taking place simultaneously throughout California. The large survey collected information from more than 7,300 diverse retail stores – including convenience, supermarket, liquor, tobacco, small market, discount, drug and big-box stores – in all 58 counties, with the goal of shedding light on what products are available and promoted in our communities. Nearly 700 public health representatives, community volunteers and youth participated in the survey, which was conducted from July through October 2013.
“We have made a lot of strides in recent years but, as these survey results show, the tobacco industry and other companies offering unhealthy products are continuing to find new ways and new products to entice our youth, like flavored cigars which are the same price as a pack of gum. These are being marketed throughout our county, many times in stores just a few blocks from schools,” said Kimberly Amazeen, Vice President of Programs & Advocacy, American Lung Association in California. “We are committed to working with retailers, partners and parents throughout the region to protect our kids and make our communities healthier. We all must be educated about how the places we shop are influencing unhealthy behaviors.”
Survey results also show that candy, mint and liquor flavored non-cigarette tobacco products are available in 85% of Colusa County stores which is higher than the state average. Dr. Lou Anne Cummings, Colusa County Health Officer, notes “tobacco products with flavors added like black cherry, fruit punch and bubble gum are unlikely to appeal to your established adult smoker.” Rather, these products have been shown to appeal to kids. Data also shows 3 out of 4 stores that sell these flavored tobacco products locally are located near schools (within 1,000 feet).
Additionally, the findings demonstrate that electronic cigarettes are becoming increasingly available in Colusa County, with 1/3 of stores currently selling e-cigarettes. Statewide, the number of stores selling e-cigarettes quadrupled in the last two years, from 11.5% in 2011 to 45.7% in 2013. “I am concerned that the design of tobacco Industry’s advertising and new products are especially appealing to youth and young adults – the people most at risk for addiction” says Cummings.
The survey includes state, regional and county level data with new insights on the density of stores selling tobacco and their proximity to schools; types of tobacco and alcohol products being sold; advertising and placement of such products in stores; and the availability and promotion of unhealthy and healthy food options including low- or non-fat milk and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Additional survey findings in Colusa County include:
- One out of four stores sells tobacco products near candy at the check-out and are located near schools.
- 79% of stores sell alcohol while only 27% sell low- or non-fat milk.
- 43% of stores are selling good quality fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Sugary drinks are available at the check-out counter in 60% of stores.
- 83% of stores sell cigarillos for under a dollar.
Today’s data release also marks the launch of Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, a statewide campaign – formed by tobacco prevention, nutrition and alcohol prevention partners working in collaboration – to improve the health of Californians by informing them about the impacts of unhealthy product marketing in the retail environment.
For state, regional and county specific data and more information on Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, visit www.HealthyStoresHealthyCommunity.com.
The Colusa County Tobacco Education Program provides educational materials about the health effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke as well as resources for individuals who wish to quit using tobacco.