News and Events

The Impact of Tobacco Product Marketing and Advertising in Levy County
September 19, 2018

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County works to educate community members and decision makers about how youth and adult tobacco use in Levy is impacted by tobacco product placement, marketing, and advertising at the point of sale in convenience stores, gas stations, and other stores that sell tobacco products.

Studies have shown that tobacco use is associated with exposure to retail advertising and easy access to tobacco products. Cigarette companies have significant control over their products’ location, advertising, and pricing in retail stores in return for financial incentives that they provide to retailers. Since tobacco companies are limited in the advertising options they can use, a vital industry strategy involves saturating convenience stores with tobacco ads and highly visible tobacco products.

According to the CDC, in 2016, cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies spent $9.5 billion, or more than $26 million per day, on advertising and promotion. That’s about $29 for every person (adults and children) in the U.S. per year. Over 90% of that total is spent on point-of-sale marketing (payments to retailers for price discounts; promotional allowances for stocking, shelving, displaying, and merchandizing select brands; volume rebates; and promotions.)

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids’ 2012 Deadly Alliance Report found that two out of three teenagers visit a convenience store at least once a week. A 2010 study (Henricksen, et al) found that the odds of youth tobacco use initiation more than doubled for youth who visited a store with point of sale tobacco ads at least twice a week. Furthermore, exposure to tobacco marketing and tobacco product displays can make quit attempts more difficult as they increase tobacco product cravings.

According to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey in 2016, one in four Levy youth ages 11-17 reported current use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless, hookah, or electronic vaping - 24.9% compared to the state rate of 16.3%. Current use of cigarettes and cigars by Levy County youth is over twice the state of Florida rate and Levy youth use smokeless tobacco at a rate nearly FOUR times higher than the state rate. Current use of e-cigarettes by Levy youth (16.8%) is also higher than the rate for Florida (11.6%).

Levy County has 68 stores with licenses to sell tobacco, and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County has completed monitoring of the types of tobacco and related products that are sold in every store and how these products are marketed. Further monitoring of 12 stores identified as having voluntary agreements for responsible tobacco retailing were also completed. The results showed that the tobacco industry heavily markets their products in Levy’s stores and advertising of products is prevalent, even in stores with voluntary agreements. Often tobacco products are displayed within 12 inches of youth-oriented items, such as candy or toys. Many advertisements are placed at a child’s eye level (3 feet or below).

In 2001, Levy County Commissioners passed a tobacco product placement ordinance that applies to unincorporated areas, which specifies that tobacco products are to be placed behind the sales counter, requiring retailer assistance for purchase. The cities of Williston and Cedar Key have also passed similar ordinances; however, Cedar Key’s ordinance is the only policy that specifically includes electronic cigarettes. Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices (e-cigarettes) did not become widely available in the United States until 2006.

If you are interested in learning more about the work of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County, please contact us at info@tfp-levy.org or 352-577-4309 or visit our partnership website: www.tfp-levy.org