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An examination of trends in amount and type of cigarette advertising and sales promotions in California stores, 2002–2005


Background: Cigarette companies spend more of their marketing dollars in stores than in any other venue. In 2005, they spent 88% of a total of $13.1 billion to advertise and promote product sales in stores.

Aim: The purposes of this study were to identify how the amount and types of cigarette advertising and sales promotions have changed in stores in California between 2002 and 2005, and to assess neighbourhood influences on cigarette marketing in stores.

Methods: Four observational assessments of cigarette advertising were conducted in approximately 600 California stores that sold cigarettes from 2002 to 2005. Trained observers collected data on the amount and type of cigarette advertising, including signs, product shelving and displays and functional items, and presence of sales promotions on these items. Longitudinal analyses were performed to estimate trends over time and identify correlates of change in the amount and type of tobacco advertising.

Results: The mean number of cigarette advertisements per store increased over time from 22.7 to 24.9. The percentage of stores with at least one advert for a sales promotion increased from 68% to 80%. The amount of advertising and proportion of stores with sales promotions increased more rapidly in stores situated in neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of African–Americans.

Conclusion: The results indicate increasing use of stores to market and promote cigarette sales. Further, these increases are disproportionately accelerating in neighbourhoods with more African–Americans. Legislative strategies should be pursued to control the marketing of tobacco products and promotional strategies used to reduce prices in stores.

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