New Survey Finds Tobacco Products Easily Available

The First and Largest Survey of its Kind in California Analyzing Tobacco,
Alcohol and Food in Stores Released Today

SACRAMENTO CA, March 5, 2014 — New data reveals that in Sacramento County, more than four out of every five stores sell the most popular brand of cigarillos for under $1. That’s less than the price of a candy bar. These findings are part of new data released today on the availability and marketing of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy as well as healthy food products in stores that sell tobaccothe first time all three categories of products have been analyzed together.
 
Health advocates across the state released the survey results today at 13 press events taking place simultaneously throughout California. The large survey collected information from more than 7,300 diverse retail stores – including convenience, supermarket, liquor, tobacco, small market, discount, drug and big-box stores – in all 58 counties, with the goal of shedding light on what products are available and promoted in our communities. Nearly 700 public health representatives, community volunteers and youth participated in the survey, which was conducted from July through October 2013.
 
“We have made a lot of strides in recent years but, as these survey results show, the tobacco industry and other companies offering unhealthy products continue to find new ways and new products to entice our youth, like flavored cigars which are the same price as a pack of gum. These are being marketed throughout our county, many times in stores just a few blocks from schools,” said Kimberly Amazeen, Vice President of Programs & Advocacy, American Lung Association in California. “We are committed to working with retailers, partners and parents throughout Sacramento County to protect our kids and make our communities healthier. We all must be educated about how the places we shop are influencing unhealthy behaviors.”
 
Survey results show that 85% of stores in Sacramento County sell candy, mint and liquor flavored non-cigarette tobacco products like cigarillos.  “Cigarillos are available in kid-appealing flavors such as grape, watermelon, cherry and chocolate. It’s not surprising that our kids are drawn to these products that look more like candy than a deadly product and are available at very cheap prices” said Twlia Laster, Program Manager of The SOL Project- Saving Our Legacy, African Americans for Smoke Free Safe Places.
 
The findings also show that electronic cigarettes are widely available in Sacramento County, alarming health officials and community partners. More than 62% of stores sell e-cigarettes, which is the second highest percentage in the State.  Statewide, the number of stores selling e-cigarettes nearly quadrupled in the last two years, from 11.5% in 2011 to 45.7% in 2013. “This is yet another highly addictive product that is being aggressively marketed and showing up in retail stores,” said Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County Public Health Officer “The popularity and prevalence could undermine the great work we’ve done on tobacco use in California." 

The survey includes state, regional and county level data with new insights on the density of stores selling tobacco and their proximity to schools; types of tobacco and alcohol products being sold; advertising and placement of such products in stores; the availability of e-cigarettes; and the availability and promotion of unhealthy and healthy food options including low- or non-fat milk and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Additional survey Sacramento County findings include:

  • 17% of stores are within 1,000 feet of a school.
  • 74% of stores sell chewing tobacco.
  • 44% of stores sell tobacco products near candy at the check-out.
  • Nearly 72% of stores sell sugary drinks at the check-out.
  • Nearly 80% of stores sell alcohol.

Today’s data release also marks the launch of Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, a  statewide campaign – formed by tobacco prevention, nutrition and alcohol prevention partners working in collaboration – to improve the health of Californians by informing them about the impacts of unhealthy product marketing in the retail environment.

For state, regional and county specific data and more information on Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, visit www.HealthyStoresHealthyCommunity.com.

Please contact Laura McCasland, Communications & Media Officer, at 916-875-2008, or McCaslandl@saccounty.net if you have any additional questions.

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