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How tobacco companies ensure prime placement of their advertising and products in stores: interviews with retailers about tobacco company incentive programmes
  1. E C Feighery1,
  2. K M Ribisl2,
  3. P I Clark3,
  4. H H Haladjian1
  1. 1Public Health Institute, Berkeley, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  3. 3Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Ellen Feighery, Public Health Institute, 141 Kelly Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, USA; 


Background: About 81% of cigarette manufacturers’ marketing expenditures in the USA is spent to promote cigarette sales in stores. Relatively little is known about how these expenditures help the manufacturers achieve their marketing goals in stores. A better understanding of how tobacco companies influence the retail environment would help researchers and tobacco control activists to monitor industry presence in stores.

Objective: To describe the types of tobacco company incentive programmes offered to retailers, how these programmes impact the store environments, and possible visual indicators of retailer participation in incentive programmes.

Study design: In-depth qualitative interviews with a convenience sample of 29 tobacco retailers were conducted in 2001.

Setting: USA.

Main outcome measures: The types and requirements of retailer incentive programmes provided by tobacco companies, and how participation in a programme alters their stores.

Results: The retailers provided insights into how tobacco companies convey promotional allowances and special offers to them and how these incentives shape the retail environment. Retailers noted that tobacco companies exert substantial control over their stores by requiring placement of products in the most visible locations, and of specific amounts and types of advertising in prime locations in the store. Retailers also described how tobacco companies reduce prices by offering them volume based discounts, “buy two, get one free” specials, and “buying down” the price of existing product.

Conclusions: Tobacco companies are concentrating their marketing dollars at the point-of-sale to the extent that the store is their primary communication channel with customers. As a result, all shoppers regardless of age or smoking status are exposed to pro-smoking messages. Given the financial resources spent by tobacco companies in stores, this venue warrants closer scrutiny by researchers and tobacco control advocates.

  • advertising
  • promotional allowances
  • retail outlet marketing
  • slotting fees

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