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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC Study: Retailers Express Mixed Support for Wide Range of Tobacco-related Policies

Several researchers from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health are co-authors on a recent study documenting retailer opinions about tobacco control policies at the point of sale.

Dr. Susan Ennett, professor and vice chair for academic affairs, Dr. Kurt Ribisl, professor, and Dr. H. Luz McNaughton Reyes, research assistant professor, are all faculty in the department of health behavior at UNC. Drs. Ennett and Ribisl also are members of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC. Co-author Dr. Shyanika W. Rose, is a 2014 alumna of UNC.


[Photo: Left to right are Drs. Susan Ennett, Kurt Ribisl and Luz McNaughton Reyes.]

The researchers conducted interviews with more than 250 tobacco retailers in three North Carolina counties and linked the retailer opinions with in-person observational data of each store’s compliance with current point of sale policies. They also analyzed factors associated with noncompliance.

More than 90 percent of retailers supported tobacco access restrictions for minors. A large minority (more than 40 percent) was in favor of graphic warnings on tobacco products as well as bans on promotional gifts offered with purchase. Only 17 percent, however, would support a potential ban on menthol cigarettes.

Of the 252 stores in the study, 16 percent were noncompliant with one or more provisions of the Tobacco Control Act, such as selling modified risk labeled cigarettes (e.g., “light’ or “low tar”) and offering self-service displays of tobacco products.

Store noncompliance was associated with more reported retailer barriers to compliance (including customer use of false identification and lack of shop space for proper displays and signage) as well as less support by storeowners for point of sale policies in general.

In light of these findings, advocates and government agencies tasked with tobacco policy enforcement should consider working with retailers as stakeholders to enhance support, mitigate barriers and promote compliance with tobacco control efforts at the point of sale.

The full article was published online Sept. 11 by BMC Public Health.

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