OBJECTIVE To examine the extent and types of cigarette advertising materials in stores and to assess tobacco company compliance with the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).
DESIGN A cross-sectional analysis of a random sample of 586 stores that sold cigarettes.
SETTING US state of California.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Trained data collectors classified cigarette advertising materials by type (signs, displays, functional items), location (interior or exterior), and placement (below 3 feet (1 m) or near candy).
RESULTS California retail outlets featured 17.2 (SD 16.1) tobacco advertising materials on average, and 94% of stores featured at least some advertising. About 85% of these were within 4 feet (1.3 m) of the counter. About 50% of the stores had ads at or below 3 feet, and 23% had cigarette product displays next to candy. In violation of the MSA, 3% of stores featured signs with cartoons and 11% had large exterior signs.
CONCLUSIONS Tobacco companies are aggressively using stores to market cigarettes. Moreover, the spirit of the MSA—to protect children from cigarette advertising—has not been realised. Future studies should monitor industry use of this venue and assess the impact of exposure to cigarette advertising materials in stores on adult smokers and youth.
- point-of-sale advertising
- tobacco industry
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