Objective Over four-fifths of reported expenditures for marketing tobacco products occur at the retail point of sale (POS). To date, no systematic review has synthesised the methods used for surveillance of POS marketing. This review sought to describe the audit objectives, methods and measures used to study retail tobacco environments.
Methods We systematically searched 11 academic databases for papers indexed on or before 14 March 2012, identifying 2906 papers. Two coders independently reviewed each abstract or full text to identify papers with the following criteria: (1) data collectors visited and assessed (2) retail environments using (3) a data collection instrument for (4) tobacco products or marketing. We excluded papers where limited measures of products and/or marketing were incidental. Two abstractors independently coded included papers for research aims, locale, methods, measures used and measurement properties. We calculated descriptive statistics regarding the use of four P's of marketing (product, price, placement, promotion) and for measures of study design, sampling strategy and sample size.
Results We identified 88 store audit studies. Most studies focus on enumerating the number of signs or other promotions. Several strengths, particularly in sampling, are noted, but substantial improvements are indicated in the reporting of reliability, validity and audit procedures.
Conclusions Audits of POS tobacco marketing have made important contributions to understanding industry behaviour, the uses of marketing and resulting health behaviours. Increased emphasis on standardisation and the use of theory are needed in the field. We propose key components of audit methodology that should be routinely reported.
- Advertising and Promotion
- Surveillance and monitoring
- Tobacco industry
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