Released by the Washington County Tobacco Free Partnership
As Floridians, we are confronted with an issue that kills an average of three Floridians an hour, every day. The problem is tobacco products. Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars, and e-cigarettes are all being promoted with bright colors and flavors. These products are all easily accessible from your local gas station and convenience store.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. 3 Tobacco products cause more than 32,300 deaths each year in Florida.1 For every death due to a smoking related illness, there are 30 more people living with the long-term effects of smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco and vaping.
Tobacco companies view today’s youth as “replacement smokers”, someone to replace their old and dying customers. They use known influencers amongst children and teens to advertise smoking and vaping as attractive and cool. Exposure to tobacco products and advertising at the point of sale increase initiation and smoking rates among youth. Research has shown that youth who’re exposed to advertising, live in areas with higher retailer density, or both, are also more likely to smoke.2
Electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, which is both highly addictive and harmful chemical. Nicotine is one of many harmful chemicals that are in e-cigarettes. The E-cigarettes are being advertised using bright colors, candy flavors, and cartoon characters. This advertising makes these products more appealing to the youth to try leading to a potential lifelong addiction.
The Washington County Tobacco Prevention Program in collaboration with the Tobacco Free Partnership have taken various measures to educate the community on the marketing tactics used by Big Tobacco. In response to the proliferation e-cigarettes, the Tobacco Free Partnership and the Tobacco Prevention Program have worked to educate local retailers on Assurance Voluntary Compliance (AVC). Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVCs) are contracts between a company and one or more statesAssurances of Voluntary Compliance (“AVCs”) are contracts between a company and one or more states.Assurances of Voluntary Compliance (“AVCs”) are contracts between a company and one or more states. This is a step to remind retailers of the law when it comes to selling tobacco products. Retailers are reminded that they are to check identification to ensure they are not selling to minors and that federal law has recently raised the age to purchase tobacco products to 21. In addition to AVC compliance, an assessment of product placement and advertisement has been conducted. This assessment showed that tobacco industry tactics including price promotions and packaging that are attractive to youth are utilized in Washington County at the point of sale.
“I think it is horrible that [Big Tobacco] is targeting children. Children are more influenced than the older generation. They are making smoking look attractive to the younger generation,” Says Kathy Green, a local parent.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. BRFSS Prevalence & Trends Data [online]. 2018. Accessed February 19, 2020.
2 Center for Public Health Systems Science. Point-of-Sale Strategies: A Tobacco Control Guide. St. Louis: Center for Public Health Systems Science, George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis and the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, 2014 [accessed 2019 Aug 27].
3 Jennifer Warner. “Smoking is Top Cause of Preventable Death”. April 27, 2009: P1. Digital.