Addressing Youth Tobacco Sales in Martin County
June 12, 2020

Youth tobacco use has long been an alarming issue in Martin County, and with e-cigarette use on the rise, it is now more important than ever to address the sale of these products at local retailers.  Locally, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County continue to address these issues through local surveillance in educational opportunities.

Since 2015, volunteers and task force members in Martin County have been working on a pilot project in Martin County with Counter Tools, an organization that provides technology tools, training, and technical assistance to public health practitioners and researchers who are working to enact and enforce policy, systems and environmental interventions to promote public health.

Task Force members have been assessing over 150 retailers in Martin County, studying the ways they market and sell tobacco products, and more recently efforts have focused on stores that have adopted an AVC (Assurances of Voluntary Compliance) agreement with the state to adhere to higher standards when it comes to tobacco marketing towards youth at the point of sale.

Some of the issues discovered were the lack of age of sale signage from registers and indoor displays, a lack of signage on ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) products marking the age of sale and other appropriate warnings, and free samples offered at stores in violation of AVC agreements.

One of the first efforts taken was educating retailers on the definitions of their AVC agreements.  Additionally, information has been provided to local decision makers to help them best address issues through monitoring, education and local legislation.  One proposed change includes requiring a local tobacco retail license of all stores selling tobacco and ENDS products.  This would be the first license requirement for ENDS retailers, helping to curtail the sale of these addictive products to youth.

Youth access to tobacco products and advertisements targeting youth remain one of the primary concerns of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County.  Each year, tobacco companies spend over $11 billion a year to market their products, which represents $8,500 spent to recruit each of the new 1.3 million teenage smokers each year.  85% of those advertising dollars are spent directly at retail outlets.

To learn more about the Tobacco Free Partnership’s efforts to counteract tobacco marketing at retail outlets and the work of the Point of Sale Task Force, visit www.TFP-Martin.org.