Go to any convenience store or gas station and you will see carefully placed advertisements for tobacco inside the store. But look closer and you will see those ads started before you pulled into the parking lot. Depending on municipality signage laws, many ads start at the street level, and follow you throughout the store.
Just pulling in for gas, pay at the pump and go? The tobacco companies have already gotten to you at least two times by now, once with signage at the street and another with signage on the pump. Depending on the location of the convenience store, advertisements could be anywhere on the pump, free-standing next to it or on supports around the pump. Need to go into the store to pay for gas? The awnings, doors and windows may all carry bright tobacco signs competing for prime advertising space next to non-tobacco products. Signage is usually placed at eye level for adults, or at kids’ eye level to grab their attention.
Once you open the door and enter the store, the line blurs between what is tobacco and what is not. Tobacco products should be behind the counter, but signs advertising tobacco are all over the store. If the candy is placed away from the counter, you will probably see a tobacco sign nearby, like in the photo to the left. Youngsters and adults alike are always reminded there is tobacco nearby.
According to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 90% of tobacco company marketing is spent to “saturate convenience stores, gas stations and other retail outlets.” Over $10 billion a year is spent by the tobacco companies to advertise and display their products, and keep prices down with in-store coupons and promotions. All this marketing may not have an effect on a non-smoking adult. Many adults may not even recognize the skillfully placed tobacco ads in stores, or the fact that tobacco is packaged in the same bright colors as candy. But the kids notice everything and are susceptible to the relentless advertising by the tobacco industry.
Youth are constantly assaulted by the images and messages from a young age telling them to use tobacco for “pleasure” (Newport), for “adventure” (Camel), “to be real” (Kool) or “unique” (Copenhagen). These messages are invitations to youth to establish their identity, and the best way, according to the tobacco industry, is by using harmful tobacco products.
“Deadly Alliance: How Big Tobacco and Convenience Stores Partner to Market Tobacco Products and Fight Life-Saving Policies,” by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, is an eye-opening report which describes how tobacco products are marketed towards kids. Parents should read to understand how their kids are targeted, and kids need to be made aware of how they are being manipulated by the tobacco industry.
Click here for the full “Deadly Alliance” report.