A new report by three public health groups charges tobacco companies have made convenience stores important partners in enticing minors to smoke, through marketing and fighting policies that reduce tobacco use.
Tobacco companies now spend more than 90 percent of their marketing budget—almost $10 billion annually—on convenience stores, gas stations and other retail outlets, according to the report, “Deadly Alliance: How Tobacco Companies and Convenience Stores Partner to Market Tobacco Products and Fight Life-Saving Policies.” It was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Counter Tobacco and the American Heart Association.
This marketing money is used to ensure that tobacco products are heavily advertised, prominently displayed and priced affordably in order to appeal to youth, as well as current smokers, according to the report.
Convenience stores have become front groups for the tobacco industry in fighting higher tobacco taxes and other policies that are aimed at reducing tobacco use, the report asserts, as well as the dominant channel for marketing tobacco products in the United States. “With tobacco ads prohibited on television, radio and billboards and less frequent in magazines, convenience stores remain one place where kids are regularly exposed to tobacco advertising and promotions,” states a news release by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
More than two-thirds of teens visit a convenience store at least once a week, where they often see tobacco products that are placed at children’s eye level or near candy, the report states.
The public health groups call on elected officials to adopt policies such as higher tobacco taxes to reduce tobacco use and to fight the influence of tobacco marketing in stores, according to CSPnet.com. The report also calls for prohibiting price discounting for cigarettes, increasing retailer licensing fees and imposing laws that require tobacco companies to disclose how much money they provide to retailers and others.