Changes in Tobacco Product Advertising at Point of Sale: 2015-2018


Tobacco point-of-sale advertising, particularly in retailers surrounding schools, is associated with youth tobacco use and must be monitored. This study examines how the point-of-sale environment surrounding youth changed over time with regard to diverse tobacco products.


Each spring from 2015 to 2018, research staff visited the same tobacco retailers (n = 141) within a half-mile of New Jersey high schools. For cigarettes, cigars, electronic cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco, advertisement presence, volume, and share of advertising voice (SAV) were measured for both the exterior and interior of the store. Analyses examined changes over time by product, controlling for store type and poverty.


Over time, exterior cigarette advertisements declined in presence (61% to 49%) and SAV (50% to 40%), whereas interior advertisements maintained stable presence, volume, and SAV. In contrast, cigar advertisements increased in presence (exterior 11% to 23%; interior 19% to 30%) and volume (exterior mean 0.2 to 0.5; interior 0.3 to 0.8). For electronic cigarettes, exterior and interior advertising presence, volume, and SAV decreased from 2015 to 2017 but increased in 2018. Smokeless tobacco advertising was infrequent and stayed consistent except in volume in the interior of stores (mean 0.2 to 0.3). When there were any differences by store type, chain convenience stores had the most exterior and interior advertising for all products.


The longitudinal changes observed for each product’s advertising reflect national youth use rates of the corresponding products. The point-of-sale environment around schools may be influencing youth tobacco use and must be monitored and regulated.

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