Local retailers praised for protecting youth from tobacco

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To celebrate local stores that have reduced tobacco advertising in 2019, Building A Positive Community (formerly Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition) and West River Valley Thrives, have completed the 2019 "Star Store Program." This program recognizes retailers for protecting the youth in the community, either by not selling tobacco, or by not putting up tobacco ads where children are likely to see them.

Recently, the two groups completed store assessments in the towns and villages of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Jamaica, Newfane, Putney, Townshend, and Wardsboro. These assessments looked at both tobacco and alcohol marketing in stores.

Fifty-nine retailers in these towns were provided Star Store window clings to promote their business as helping to reduce youth's exposure to tobacco or alcohol products and marketing, which has shown to have a strong influence on underage use of tobacco and alcohol. According to CounterBalanceVT.org, "Retail stores are the primary place where tobacco companies recruit new tobacco users, and nearly 90 percent of those new users are underage youth. Youth exposure to tobacco marketing is directly correlated to youth tobacco use, with an estimated one-third of teenage smoking experimentation resulting from tobacco advertising."

The substance misuse prevention organizations recognized the following 17 stores with a Gold Star for not selling and not advertising tobacco products: Aldi, Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro Pharmacy, Dollar Tree, Grafton Cheese, Green Mountain Market, Hotel Pharmacy, Kampfires, KOA, Paradise Farm Stand, Price Chopper/ Market 32, Putney General Store, Putney Food Coop, Vermont Country Market, Vermont Country Deli, Walker's Farmstand, and West Townshend Country Store. Hannaford's Supermarket in Brattleboro, was recognized as a rising Silver Star store.

Rolf Parker, program specialist with BAPC, said, "We are happy to see so many stores showing that they are aware of the impact of tobacco advertising on our youth. We are grateful that several of these stores have reduced their outdoor tobacco advertising. This change is good for both our youth and our businesses. When customers see a Star Store sticker on the door of a business, we hope that they will let the store manager know how much they appreciate what the store is doing for our youth."

There were a large number of stores throughout the area receiving either Silver or Bronze Stars. A Silver Star lets customers know that the store does not have any advertising for either tobacco or alcohol. A Bronze Star shows that the retailer does not have any outdoor advertising for either tobacco or alcohol. Stores that are interested in qualifying for a Star Store certificate can contact BAPC at 802-257-2175.

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