Tobacco and 2 more...less...

Policies and Systems

Tobacco Cessation Community Coalition

# of durable local or state interventions introduced that address the tobacco point of sale environment.

3SFY 2020

Line Bar
Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: September 2020

The Vermont Department of Health's Tobacco Program funds 14 local Community Grantees and Youth Groups for tobacco prevention activities. The program also educates on the need for state-level policy change to reduce youth and young adult access to products, to prevent intiation and use, and to support Vermonters seeking to quit and successfully maintain their abstinence from tobacco. In FY19 there were two successful point of sale policies passed at the local level.


According to the Surgeon’s General’s 2012 Report, the tobacco point of sale environment is more influential on youth initiation of tobacco use than peer pressure. A point of sale environment that exposes youth and adults to tobacco through ads, price discounts and displays of tobacco products also makes it harder for smokers to quit and/or to maintain their quit. There are several point of sale solutions that effectively minimize exposure and access to tobacco marketing and price promotions, including:

  • limit the location, size and number of signs for tobacco and other products in a town or municipality

  • remove the promotions on the exterior of a store

  • pass an ordinance to restrict new paraphernalia stores, which sell products that can be used for tobacco, marijuana or e-cigarettes

  • amend town plans and bylaws to preserve the character of a town or village by limiting the location and density of businesses that sell products that can't be sold to minors.

Several of our grantees worked hard to implement interventions to address point-of-sale in their region of impact. Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition (BAPC), for example, has created and implemented the "Star Store" program for four years, which consists of store audits and public recognition of retailers using best practices around tobacco sales. Stores that sell no tobacco recieve a gold star window cling. Stores that sell toabcco but have no tobacco advertising recieve a silver star, and stores that have no external advertising receive a bronze star. Qualifiying stores are also featured in a large window display at a local bank, BAPC's Facebook page, and positive mention in a press release. As a result of the Star Store audits, the local Hannafords grocery store manager was surprised to learn their grocery store was the last one in town to still be selling and marketing tobacco and wanted to do something about it. Through continued conversation with BAPC, the store manager had the tobacco display case turned so ninety degrees to the checkout area to remove the branding images from the customer's view in the check-out line. Some of the advertising was also removed. In July of 2020, Hannafords Corporation annoucned they were formally ceasing the sale of all tobacco products! Greater Falls Connection (GFC), in Bellows Falls, also adopted the Star Store audit program in their area to address the challenges of advertising and building positive relationshipes with local businesses.


The leaders of Mt. Ascutney Partnership for Prevention, worked with their regional planning partners to promote a new template for the health chapter for the Plymouth town plan. This town plan was succcessfully adopted in September 2019 which is written to create an environment that promotes health behaviors, including addressing point-of-sale concerns. 


Through the Health Department's CounterBalance campaign, since 2014 community grantees and youth groups have been educating local community about the influence of tobacco point of sale and the tactics the industry uses with flavors to entice youth to tobacco use.  Flavors are federally restricted in cigarettes (except for menthol) but are unregulated in smokeless and e-cigarette products. In FY20 the CounterBalance campaign and grantees educated on flavors and e-cigarettes. If interested in finding out more regarding the work and achievements of the tobacco prevention grantees, email



Community Coalitions: tobacco-funded grantees create yearly work plans with local point of sale objectives, smoke- and tobacco-free objectives, earned media and several other activities.

Youth Groups: OVX and VKAT members and other youth groups often support Coalition initiatives through youth activism and becoming the face of tobacco prevention.

Local Decision Makers: Select boards, boards of trustees, town officers, and town planners have the authority to enact, incorporate or change prevention policies that reduce exposure, access and promotion of tobacco. They may work with the Health Department and other coalitions and partners to receive technical guidance.

Local Residents: Tobacco policy progress benefits from the participation of concerned residents who can help create the understanding, support and movement for protective policies. Often policy advancement is aided when there is a groundswell of support and demand from local residents. Coalitions educate residents and decision makers to create demand for change. Residents and retailers that are willing to envision healthier retail environment are critical champions for the issue.

Vermont Department of Health: The Vermont Tobacco Control Program helps to support policy change at the state level by presenting research and best practice to statewide decision makers. These efforts are supported by Health Department leadership and the member agencies of the Vermont Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board.

What Works

Addressing the tobacco point of sale is an established practice, especially at the local level, to address the upstream causes of tobacco use. The pace of new policies in this area of prevention has picked up over the last five years. For example:

  • San Francisco, CA and many Massachusetts towns ban tobacco sales in pharmacies; 
  • New York City, San Antonio, Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis and both Kansas Cities, Chicago and six states (Hawaii, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey and Maine) have raised the legal tobacco purchase age to 21 years; 
  • Chicago, IL restricts the sale of flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of a school, restricts e-cigarettes and smoking within 15 feet of buildings, and as of October 1, 2016 bans all coupons and other discounts on tobacco products; 
  • Providence, RI banned coupon redemption; and,
  • San Francisco is capping the number of tobacco retailers in the city and has banned the sale of flavored tobacco products.

The Vermont Department of Health is working to create momentum in reducing the impact of point of sale by:

  • providing ongoing support and technical assistance to tobacco coalitions and youth groups as they educate community members and decision makers
  • educating on the harms of tobacco and the strategies used by the industry to increase youth access and initiation,
  • providing model policies to inform decision makers,
  • supporting store audit activities,
  • implementing point of sale surveillance tools,
  • distributing background information and research around promising practices,
  • reaching out to new partners such as the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies, and,
  • conducting media campaigns.
Action Plan

The program will continue to provide support to community grantees and Office of Local Health around how the industry uses point of sale tactics and the strategies and policies that can counteract that impact to create healthier communities for youth and young adults. One-on-one technical assistance with Vermont Department of Health central and Office of Local Health staff is provided on an ongoing basis. The program has also invested in conducting a statewide media campaign called CounterBalance. CounterBalance will continue to collect information on community perceptions about the point of sale and educate decision makers about local and state options.


Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy