Tobacco companies spend more of their marketing and promotional dollars in the retail environment than anywhere else. Big tobacco is required to report their marketing spend to the Federal Trade Commission, and, according to the 2011 Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report, the six largest tobacco companies spent $8.6 billion at the point of sale in 2008. That is $1,000,000 an hour on price discounts and branded advertisements that prompt tobacco usage and make it harder to quit!

One first step in changing the tobacco industry presence at the point of sale is to conduct retail store audits in your community. First: use store audits to document the current situation. What do stores look like in your area? Count the number of advertisements, record which products are available and where they are located in the store. Check for compliance with tobacco regulations. Next: use your data as ammunition towards changing policies in your community or your state.

To find out more about the Store Audit Center and discuss how it could be useful in your work, please contact Counter Tools at help@countertools.org.