Objective: Although numerous studies describe the quantity and nature of tobacco marketing in stores, fewer studies examine the industry's attempts to reach youth at the point of sale. This study examines whether cigarette marketing is more prevalent in stores where adolescents shop frequently.
Design, setting, and participants: Trained coders counted cigarette ads, products, and other marketing materials in a census of stores that sell tobacco in Tracy, California (n = 50). A combination of data from focus groups and in-class surveys of middle school students (n = 2125) determined which of the stores adolescents visited most frequently.
Main outcome measures: Amount of marketing materials and shelf space measured separately for the three cigarette brands most popular with adolescent smokers and for other brands combined.
Results: Compared to other stores in the same community, stores where adolescents shopped frequently contained almost three times more marketing materials for Marlboro, Camel, and Newport, and significantly more shelf space devoted to these brands.
Conclusions: Regardless of whether tobacco companies intentionally target youth at the point of sale, these findings underscore the importance of strategies to reduce the quantity and impact of cigarette marketing materials in this venue.