The Bigger Story of Tobacco Sales

Today's CVS news is the latest chapter in an 20 year story about neighborhoods fighting retail tobacco access. Let's look back at the history:

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  1. The Early Years: State Youth Access Programs

  2. City and county health groups began an enormous data collection strategy to research retail sales of tobacco to minors.  Youth were sent on "compliance checks" to test whether youth were able to illegally purchase tobacco in retail stores in neighborhoods.  Turned out they could... easily.  
  3. Inspections evolved from data collection to opportunities for education and enforcement, gradually driving down illegal retail sales rates.
  4. "Big Tobacco's voluntary youth access programs were inherently and deliberately flawed, were never been implemented effectively, and never functioned properly to reduce youth access to tobacco products or stop illegal cigarette sales to kids". - Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
  5. Emerging Research

  6. As public health efforts grew, research highlighted the deep threat that retail access points posed to tobacco prevention efforts.  In addition, this threat was concentrated in poor and black neighborhoods.  Comprehensive solutions were identified as the most robust interventions.
  7. Neighorhoods Begin Organizing to Confront Pharmacy Sales

  8. The issue of pharmacy tobacco sales is an emerging area of concern and tobacco-free policies are not yet widespread in the US as they are in Canada. City policy campaigns have been implemented, survived industry opposition, and some business leaders can see the public health perspective.