News and Events

Tobacco Enters Our Community in the Retail Environment, Where it is Visible and Cheap
August 1, 2018

The tobacco industry spends the vast majority of their marketing money in the retail environment – over $1 million/hour to promote their products, in which, most of their marketing efforts are aimed directly to our kids.

Essentially, the tobacco industry is buying shelf space to keep tobacco visible and offering price discounts to keep tobacco cheap. These companies are no fool, what they are really “buying” is youth who initiate - adults who can’t quit! 

Large tobacco advertisement at HWY 70 Circle K,
strategically placed next to a Snickers advertisement to attract youth.

In efforts to combat these marketing tactics, the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County has been elbow deep in the retail realm of the tobacco industry for the past few years. During the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year, adult TFP members, along with the help of DeSoto County SWAT Youth, conducted 38 point of sale (POS) store audits, nearly every licensed tobacco retailer in DeSoto County.

The retail point of sale is comprised of three main categories: (a) point-of-sale advertisements, (b) price discounts (c) coupons. This was a very comprehensive and lengthy process as the store audit assessment form was 11 pages long and contained 27 questions. However, this first phase of retail assessment was an eye-opening experience for all involved and brought much to our attention locally:


During the 2017 – 2018 fiscal year, SWAT Youth and TFP members were faced with a new task, assess all local Tobacco Assurances of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) retailers. AVC is a legal agreement between a tobacco retailer and one or more states. Under these agreements, tobacco retailers can voluntarily enact tobacco advertising and/or sales restrictions.

The metrics under which these retailer locations were monitored included – tobacco product placement, pricing promotions, availability of tobacco ‘lookalike’ products, and tobacco advertisements that are limited to brand name, logo, other trademarks, and price.


All stores surveyed had at least one infraction, most with numerous, and this phase pointed out several areas of concern as well:

As you can see, the retail point of sale is a big issue here in our local community. The data obtained throughout this monitoring phase gives insight into local issues, and brings awareness into the effectiveness of voluntary agreements in the tobacco retail environment. Some of the most notable findings included areas for improvement with existing federal, local, and state tobacco regulations.

DeSoto County passed a flavored tobacco resolution in 2011 “urging tobacco retailers to stop the sale and marketing of flavored tobacco products in DeSoto County,” This tells us our local decision makers do have an interest in tobacco retail. With ENDS use on the rise, and due to the fact that 94% of the retailers in DeSoto County still currently have flavored cigarillos available, which is where many youth become addicted to tobacco, it is clear that a resolution is not enough.  

DHS SWAT Youth President, Lauren Wiley, conducting AVC store audits.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County has created a POS task force – a team of individuals with a passion for improving the health of DeSoto County residents, particularly our youth, who will help further analyze this data and determine how to create lasting change.

For more information on tobacco marketing at the retail point-of-sale or what you can do to help, please Jodie DeLoach, Facilitator of the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County -  



* Federal Trade Commission Cigarette and Smokeless Reports, 2012
* Data from DeSoto County Point of Sale Store Audit Assessments
* Data collected from DeSoto AVC Store Audit Assessments