OBJECTIVE To examine self service tobacco displays (SSTDs) and youth retail tobacco access by comparing longitudinal illegal tobacco sales rates in three communities in Santa Barbara County, California, that considered or implemented ordinances banning SSTDs. A confirmatory survey was also conducted to substantiate the longitudinal data.
DESIGN A longitudinal case study design was utilised. Five undercover tobacco buys were conducted between 1994 and 1997 (n = 332). In addition, one confirmatory survey was conducted in a geographically separated area, which had no ordinances banning SSTDs (n = 57).
RESULTS Decreases in youth buy rates were reported in all three communities. Most notably, the first city to enact a SSTD ban, Carpinteria, achieved a 0% sales rate, which was maintained throughout the study period. In contrast, Santa Barbara and Goleta experienced considerable drops in their illegal sales rates, but neither community obtained results as dramatic as those found in Carpinteria. The confirmatory survey showed that 32.1% of stores with SSTDs sold cigarettes to minors; this compares to a sales rate of 3.4% in stores without SSTDs (χ2(1) = 8.11, p = 0.004).
CONCLUSIONS Efforts to enact self service bans are likely to meet with retail and tobacco industry opposition, as was the case in this study's three communities. The process of community debate, resultant publicity surrounding the issue, and enactment of SSTD ordinances may serve to not only increase merchant awareness of youth tobacco laws and their penalties but also may contribute to reduced youth cigarette sales rates. Implications and limitations of the findings are discussed.
- self service tobacco displays
- youth tobacco access
- community tobacco control efforts
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