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Tobacco Prevention N

Has anyone ever gone into a convenience store and looked at the brightly colored displays? How many of the displays and banners were promoting tobacco use? Now for the big question, has anyone ever gone into a convenience store with their children and wondered if their children recognized the brightly colored displays? Truth is, everyone has seen those brightly colored displays in convenience stores with many promoting tobacco products. And, yes, children have noticed them as well.

Today, tobacco companies continue to find ways to advertise towards a varied audience, especially youth. “This is unbelievable considering all of the restrictions that have been set forth against their ability to promote their products”, says A.J. Allen, tobacco education specialist.

Since they are no longer legally allowed to advertise their products on television, radio or billboards due to the Master Settlement Agreement, they are spending most of their marketing budget at the source of sale. This marketing technique is called point of sale. The tobacco industry markets its products in retail locations such as convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies. Of these locations, convenience stores are the most popular. When you factor in that seventy percent of children visit convenience stores weekly and many convenience stores are generally located near schools, this makes them the most popular location for the tobacco industry to promote their products. The tobacco industry spends around thirty-one million dollars a year in Montana marketing their products via product placement, brightly colored in-store displays and packaging, and by using candy like flavors to attract youth. They also display their products at eye level where it is easier for youth to see. At one time, their products were placed within arm’s reach of customers, however the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has created regulations eliminating this option.

While the number of youths that use traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes and smokeless tobacco is at an all-time low, vaping among youth continues to be an epidemic. Hopefully, people of all ages will see past the techniques used by the tobacco industry and will continue to move towards reducing tobacco use in Montana. For questions regarding the risks of tobacco use, contact A.J. Allen, tobacco education specialist for Roosevelt and Daniels counties, at 406-653-6212.

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