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 firstname.lastname@example.org.