Tobacco marketing trends at the point-of-sale (POS) near schools in 9 middle and high-income countries
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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health​​ Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Health, Behavior and Society, United States of America
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A442
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An observational study was conducted to document tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) strategies in retail outlets in order to assess compliance with the law, and to identify tobacco industry strategies that circumvent restrictions, exploit loopholes in the language of the law, or that appeal to children.

Trained observers recorded information and photographs about the characteristics of tobacco product display and advertising signage, and offers for special promotions. Data collectors completed customized checklists that were inputted to mobile phones that captured the geographic coordinates for each location and uploaded data from the field, for real-time access and review. Data were collected from 3,964 retail outlets located within 100-250 meters of 766 primary and secondary schools in 7 middle-income countries (Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Nicaragua, and Ukraine) and 2 high-income countries (Slovenia and Switzerland). Retail outlets were identified by following a map to walk all streets located within the designated radius surrounding each school.

Tobacco products were for sale in 74.8% of retail outlets (n=2,964), 86.5% (n=2,563) of which displayed tobacco products. Among tobacco retailers, products were typically displayed near sweets (61.8%, n=1,831), in the cashier zone (49.3%, n=1,461), behind the cashier zone (39.0%, n=1,157), and 1-meter or less from the floor (27.7%, n=821), which is considered to be the eye-level of children. Nearly half of tobacco retailers also used advertising signage to market tobacco products (48.9%, n=1,448).

These data highlight the significance of the display of tobacco packs in prominent locations or near other products that attract the attention of children. POS advertising signage is another prevalent tactic that has been shown to have the same effect as traditional marketing media. Locally-customized TAPS monitoring is a useful approach to gather data that reveal such strategies and can inform effective policy development and implementation.