News and Events

The Tobacco Free Partnership and Students Working Against Tobacco Work to Bring Tobacco Retail Licensing to Bradford County
June 16, 2020

In rural communities like Bradford County tobacco marketing tactics can wreak havoc on youth, minorities, and many others by specifically targeting them with their practices.  The tobacco industry spends the vast majority of their marketing money in the retail environment – over $1 million/hour to promote their products.  Essentially, the tobacco industry is buying shelf space to keep tobacco visible and offering price discounts to keep tobacco cheap. These companies no exactly what their practices do – Continue the vicious cycle of youth initiation and adults who continue to battle not being able to quit. 

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Bradford County and Students Working Against Tobacco youth have been working on ways to engage key community leaders and elected officials about Tobacco Retail Licensing.  Taking these steps to educate and inform leaders in Bradford County will hopefully lead to policy change and the implementation of some form of Tobacco Retail Licensing locally.

In efforts to combat these marketing tactics, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Bradford County and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) have been elbow deep in the retail realm of the tobacco industry for the past several years conducting local Tobacco Retail Assessments, meeting with retailers to ensure compliance, as well as educating decision makers.  

“Through the process of assessing local retailers and meeting with key stakeholders, many of our concerns were validated.  We see practices of tobacco companies in full force at our retail point of sale here in Bradford County and many red flags have emerged through these assessments.”  says Community Health Advocate Candace Osteen.

Some of the most notable infractions during the assessment process were:

In 2019, The federal government declared youth vaping, or e-cigarette use, a nationwide epidemic. We have many retailers locally that lack the proper signage for age of sale and also run constant promotional pricing on these products.   The retail point of sale is an issue locally that can be addressed through policy change, education, enforcement, and community buy in. 

To protect youth and improve public health, local governments are turning to tobacco retail licensing to directly control the sale of tobacco products in their community.  Essentially, it is a local law that requires all businesses that sell tobacco products to obtain a license from local government. On an annual basis, retailers must fill out an application, pay a pre-determined fee, and meet any other requirements outlined in the ordinance.

TRLs grant local governments more control and greater oversight over tobacco-related activities in their community. They can oversee 1) who can sell tobacco products, 2) what types of tobacco products can be sold, and 3) the penalty structure for illegally selling to minors or for being noncompliant with other tobacco-related policies.  

Tobacco retail licensing has also been used to promote other innovative policy solutions, such as limiting the density of retailers per city square mile, banning establishments in close proximity to schools, and imposing additional restrictions on the sale and promotion of certain types of tobacco products that are particularly attractive to kids.

All in all, local TRLs give counties and municipalities more control over how tobacco and nicotine products are sold. As a result, youth access and exposure to tobacco and nicotine products decrease. In fact, a recent study found that young people who live in communities with a tobacco retail license policy that covers the cost of regular compliance checks are 33% less likely to start using cigarettes and 26% less likely to start using e-cigarette.

The Tobacco Free partnership and Students Working Against Tobacco is actively educating parents, educators, youth, and community partners on what they need to know to combat this epidemic. We are also educating decision makers and discussing the ways tobacco retail licensing could help our community.

Combustible cigarettes remain the leading cause of preventable death and possess a significant - and avoidable - health risk to our young people! We cannot stand by and allow tobacco to attack another generation of young Americans. We must do our part as community leaders and parents and protect our youth from the deadly addiction to tobacco products!

If you would like to collaborate on this initiative, or join our task force, please contact Candace Osteen at COsteen@QuitDoc.com.