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Tobacco Retail Environment

Tobacco products are cheap, easily accessible, and heavily promoted. With bans on broadcast media and billboards, most tobacco marketing now occurs in the retail environment. The tobacco retail environment refers to any location where tobacco products are advertised, displayed, and purchased. It encompasses not only the final point of purchase (i.e. the register) but also indoor and outdoor advertising at retail locations, product placement and price.

Right now, everywhere tobacco is sold, tobacco can be advertised. Tobacco advertising targets youth and specific population groups (low income neighborhoods, communities of color and rural areas) and contributes to the disproportionate burden of tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases among vulnerable populations.


State Sponsored Tobacco Retail Inspection Tools

The following tools are provided to help coordinators work with retailers, concerned community members, and elected officials to understand why and how tobacco inspections are taking place in their community.

1. Tobacco Retail Compliance Coordination and Goals (1 pager)

2. Tobacco Retail Compliance System Map

3. Matrix of Inspections

4. Most recent tobacco retail results can be found on the Tobacco Retails Sales page.


  • TRE101Slides.pptxHPCDP PowerPoint presentation on Tobacco Retail 101 (2018) Presentation provides background on why we focus on the retail environment, policy options for reducing tobacco industry influence in the retail environment, and how to leverage communications materials to support policy change.
  • HPCDP PowerPoint presentation on flavored tobacco Presentation highlights the types of flavored tobacco products available, why they are a concern, and policy options to reduce flavored tobacco use. This was presented at a Public Health Grand Rounds Session and you can check out the presentation video here.
  • HPCDP PowerPoint presentation on Point of Sale (2017) Presentation reviews the types of stores in the tobacco retail environment, why the retail environment is important for tobacco prevention, and the available policy options for countering the influence of the tobacco industry in the retail environment.

Assessment of the Retail Environment

Retail Assessment Photos

Some grantees have taken photos during their tobacco retail assessments. These photos complement the data collected during the assessments and provide tangible examples of the tobacco industry’s influence in the retail environment. Click on the following link to download photos from local tobacco retail assessments across Oregon: [LINK FOR PHOTO DOWNLOAD]

Retail Assessment Survey Tools

Tobacco Retail Evaluation

Visit the Tobacco Retail Evaluation page to learn more about Oregon's evaluation of the retail environment in local communities.

Tobacco Retail Licensing

Tobacco retail licensure is a system to enforce sales to underage persons laws as well as prevention policies that will have a meaningful impact on youth use of tobacco. When used to enforce effective policies, licensing can reduce the number of Oregon youth and young adults that become addicted to tobacco, help current tobacco users quit, and reduce health care costs.

Non-tax Approaches to Raising the Price

Increasing excise taxes is the gold standard for raising the price of tobacco products. Increased prices on tobacco products lead to lower use of these products. In Oregon, local jurisdictions are preempted from raising taxes on tobacco products, but may pursue non-tax approaches to raising the price of tobacco products.

Local jurisdictions may:

Regulating Flavored Tobacco Products, Including Menthol

Federal law prohibits the sale, distribution and manufacture of flavored cigarettes. However, many other flavored tobacco products and inhalant delivery systems remain on the market. Products such as little cigars/cigarillos, smokeless tobacco, hookah tobacco (“shisha”), e-liquids and pods are widely available. While the shapes, sizes, packaging, and modes of ingestion vary for these products, what they all have in common is their availability in a variety of flavors. Flavors mask the natural harshness and taste of tobacco, making flavored tobacco products easier to use and increasing their appeal among youth. The younger individuals are when they begin to use tobacco, the more likely they will become addicted to tobacco products.

In 2018, San Francisco voters upheld a ban on flavored tobacco products, including menthol. To view more information and a press release about the groundbreaking law, click here.

Visit Counter Tobacco's site for more information about menthol and recent policy successes.

Proximity and Density Restrictions

Most adult daily cigarette smokers started before age 18. The more youth are exposed to tobacco products and advertising, the more likely they are to experiment with and use tobacco. Youth who live or go to school in neighborhoods with a high density of tobacco outlets or advertisements have higher smoking rates compared to those living in neighborhoods with fewer outlets and advertisements.

Other Policy Options

Tobacco Free Pharmacies

Pharmacies are where people go for medicine and health care advice, but several pharmacies also sell tobacco products. In 2014, all 7,700 CVS/pharmacy stores removed cigarettes and tobacco from their shelves, stating that this was an important step in helping Americans quit smoking and get healthy. The following resources outline the health concerns associated with allowing tobacco sales at pharmacies and highlights successes of pharmacies that have gone tobacco-free.

Raise the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products

Increasing the minimum legal sale age (MLSA) for tobacco products to 21 complements tobacco prevention approaches, such as increasing the price of tobacco and implementing tobacco-free laws, to reduce youth tobacco use and help users quit. On August 9, 2017, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 754 into law, raising the required minimum age for a person to legally buy or obtain tobacco products or inhalant delivery systems from 18 to 21.

National Technical Assistance Resources

  • The Public Health Law Center - Tobacco is America’s award-winning legal network for tobacco control policy. The Center works to assist communities with tobacco law-related issues, ranging from smoke-free policies to tobacco control funding laws to regulation of flavored cigarettes.
  • Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids - The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.
  • Change Lab Solutions - ChangeLab Solutions provides community-based solutions for America’s most common and preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and asthma. Our solutions promote the common good by making healthier choices easier for everyone.
  • Counter Tobacco - Launched in August 2011, CounterTobacco.Org is the first comprehensive resource for local, state, and federal organizations working to counteract tobacco product sales and marketing at the point of sale (POS). Our site offers evidence-based descriptions of the problem, policy solutions, advocacy materials, news updates, and an image gallery exposing tobacco industry tactics at the point of sale.

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