Retailers that voluntarily abandoned tobacco sales: Analysis of media coverage
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Background: Tobacco outlet density is linked to a greater likelihood of youth and adult smoking. The Institute of Medicine regards limiting the number of tobacco outlets as key to ending the tobacco epidemic. Since 1995, a growing number of retailers have voluntarily abandoned tobacco sales. By providing publicity and shaping public and organizational opinion, media coverage may encourage other retailers to follow suit. However, no previous studies have examined media coverage of this issue. Methods: We searched three online databases for print coverage of US retailers who voluntarily stopped selling tobacco during the period 1995 to 2011. We coded and analyzed 431 items for content related to why retailers ended sales, customer reaction, and positive and negative impacts. Results: Media coverage included local, regional, and national retailers. News items cited health concerns (26%), tobacco's declining profitability (25%), and burdensome regulations (18%) as the primary reasons for ending tobacco sales. Although customer reaction was reportedly mixed, editorials and letters to the editor were more likely to favor than oppose the change. Items mentioned tobacco's disease effects and included praise from public health advocates more frequently than they mentioned possible negative financial impacts. Conclusions: Retailers voluntarily abandoning tobacco sales is a newsworthy event, and media coverage is largely supportive. Advocates can use this knowledge to promote this public health innovation.
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Evaluate media coverage of retailers who voluntarily stopped selling tobacco.
Identify why retailers abandoned sales of tobacco, its impact, and customer response.
Keyword(s): Tobacco Control, Media
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am one of the primary authors of this research and have been studying the behavior of the tobacco industry for 12 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.