Updated: January 2023
Author: Tobacco Control Program, Vermont Department of Health
The Vermont Department of Health's Tobacco Program funds 12 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 initiation and use, and to support Vermonters seeking to quit and successfully maintain their abstinence from tobacco.
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:
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, which consists of store audits and public recognition of retailers using best practices around tobacco sales. Stores that sell no tobacco receive a gold star window cling. Stores that sell tobacco but have no tobacco advertising receive a silver star, and stores that have no external advertising receive a bronze star. Qualifying 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 Hannaford 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.
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. If interested in finding out more regarding the work and achievements of the tobacco prevention grantees, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Addressing the tobacco point of sale is an established practice, especially at the local level, to address the upstream causes of tobacco use.
The Vermont Department of Health is working to create momentum in reducing the impact of point of sale by:
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.