TOWNSHEND, Vt. – According to the Centers for Disease Control and www.CounterBalanceVT.org, tobacco companies in America spent 15 million dollars in Vermont last year. Most of that marketing budget was spent placing ads in the stores where their products are sold. The tobacco companies often use tactics such as placing advertisements where children can see them to target youth.
To celebrate local stores that have reduced advertising in 2022, three non-profits in Windham County, (Building A Positive Community, West River Valley Thrives, and Greater Falls Connections) have completed the 2022 “Star Store Program.” This program recognizes retailers for protecting the youth in our community, either by not selling tobacco, or by not putting up tobacco ads where children are likely to see them.
Recently, the two groups completed 66 store assessments in the towns and villages of Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Dummerston, Grafton, Guilford, Jamaica, Newfane, Putney, Rockingham, Townshend, Wardsboro, and Westminster. These assessments looked at both tobacco and alcohol marketing in stores.
48 retailers in these towns were provided Star Store window clings to promote their business as helping to reduce youth’s exposure to tobacco or alcohol products and marketing, which has shown to have a strong influence on underage use of tobacco and alcohol. According to www.CounterBalanceVT.org, “Retail stores are the primary place where tobacco companies recruit new tobacco users, and nearly 90% of those new users are underage youth. Youth exposure to tobacco marketing is directly correlated to youth tobacco use, with an estimated one third of teenage smoking experimentation resulting from tobacco advertising.”
The substance misuse prevention organizations recognized the following 23 stores with a Gold Star for not selling and not advertising tobacco products: Aldi, Brattleboro Food Coop, Dollar Tree, Grafton Cheese, Greater Falls Pharmacy, Green Mountain Wine, Halladay’s Flowers & Gifts, Hannaford’s, Harlows Farmstands, Hotel Pharmacy, Kampfires, KOA, Little Lisai’s Corner Deli, Lisai’s Market, Price Chopper/ Market 32, Putney General Store, Putney Food Coop, Vermont Country Deli, Vermont Country Store, Walker’s Farmstand, and West Townshend Country Store.
Rolf Parker, Program Specialist with BAPC, said, “We are happy to see so many stores showing that they are aware of the impact of tobacco advertising on our youth. This is good for both our youth and our businesses. When customers see a Star Store sticker on the door of a business, we hope that they will let the store manager know how much they appreciate what the store is doing for our youth.”
There were 42 of stores throughout the area receiving either Silver or Gold Stars. A Silver Star lets customers know that the store does not have any advertising for either tobacco or alcohol. A Bronze Star shows that the retailer does not have any outdoor advertising for either tobacco or alcohol. Stores that are interested in learning more about how to qualify for a star store certificate can contact Parker-Houghton at 802-505-7653.