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How About A Tobacco Tour Through Town?

Do a research audit of the local area, collecting observations and data on the presence, type, and quality of tobacco advertisements. Visit grocery stores, convenience stores, and gas stations; search the streets for signs of tobacco promotion. You might arrange to go when a manager is there to answer your questions.

Evaluate the information collected, and develop a presentation of the findings. By carefully structuring the collection process, and deciding beforehand what kinds of information you are really looking for, the shared experience will be a productive and memorable one. Provide pre-printed sheets for collecting data, with columns for different kinds of information. A sheet or group of sheets for each location surveyed is ideal. Include places on the sheets to identify the location, the date, the person conducting the audit. Sometimes it is useful to provide boxes which can be checked yes or no. Allow space for personal comments and observations, and space for photographic evidence or for a sketch. Clip boards are wonderful tools. They help the children to keep their papers in order, and help to intimidate the public generally. The following are some stray thoughts to help you in the development of audit forms.

  • Which brand names and manufacturers are being promoted?
  • What is the medium of promotion: billboard, poster, lighted sign, point of sale display, vending machine?
  • Find out how much they store owner gets paid for displaying each of these promotional items.
  • Are all the tobacco products within the view of the cashier? Does the layout of the store encourage shoplifting?
  • Is a warning label visible on the promotional items? Is it legible? What does it say?
  • What is the size of the display? Length, width, height of bottom above ground? Relative to a child's eye level?
  • Are tobacco products for sale nearby?
  • Are candy or toys being sold near tobacco products?
  • Are children legally allowed to purchase tobacco products in your state?
  • Could children purchase tobacco products at this location?
  • Are they selling "singles" (single cigarettes) as a low-cost come-on?
  • Is there a special promotional deal offering discounts or premiums...or attractive give-aways?

Another Idea: A Tobacco Behavior Audit
The above techniques can also be employed to collect data regarding the use of tobacco products. The same rule applies here: give plenty of thought to the kinds of information you wish to collect, and carefully create audit forms that will allow for easy recording of observations.

When the data is in, go public. Find an interesting way of presenting your findings to the community. It might be wise to get press and media attention before you begin. The good work being done by children always makes interesting news.

  • Who is smoking?
  • How old are they?
  • At what age did they begin smoking?
  • Why did they start to smoke? Was it a conscoius choice?
  • Where do they get tobacco products?
  • What brand to they smoke and why?
  • Which cigarette advertisement stands out in their mind?
  • Have they ever tried to quit?
  • Compare the smokers and their stories with the models and the messages in the ads.
Target Marketing Research Project
  • Make a list of all the tobacco products and their brand names.
  • What brands are produced by which companies?
  • How many brands are there? How many tobacco companies?
  • How and where is each brand advertised or promoted?
  • Make a list of the ads and promotions and premium items for each.
  • Why would a company need more than one brand?
  • Who are they trying to reach and how do they reach them?
Put Your Name on Tobacco Industry's Mailing List

The tobacco industry has a sophisticated mailing list. You can keep up with the industry by placing your name on its mailing list. Best of all, it's free! By placing your name on the tobacco industry's mailing list, you will be notified immediately of any proposed legislation concerning tobacco control in your community. You will be contacted by mail and by phone. You may even be connected to your legislator's office if you desire. In other words, you can use the tobacco industry's deep pockets to stay informed on tobacco control issues and voice your support for clean air, indoors and out.

Operators are standing by.

National Smokers Alliance
(8OO) 224-3322
Ask for free information


Philip Morris
Smokers' Advocate
(800) 343-0975 or (212) 880-5000 Ask for free information


R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co
Choice Newsletter (800) 333-8683
Ask for free information


R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co
Peaceful Times Newsletter (800) 528-1228
Ask for free information

"This is exactly the reason why tobacco companies cannot be trusted to police themselves," says SmokeFree advocate Leonore McKean. "The tobacco cartel has one mission and one mission only--to sell more cigarettes."

Most recently, in the wake of public outcry for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate cigarettes as a drug, the tobacco cartel has proposed a disingenuous voluntary code for keeping cigarettes out of the hands of children. For example, Philip Morris says that it will put a warning on cigarette cartons indicating that the sale to underage persons is prohibited.

"Philip Morris's best strategy for enticing children to smoke is to convince them that smoking is a mature, adult activity," adds McKean. "If Philip Morris really didn't want children to smoke, it would tell children that cigarettes are addictive and cause cancer."

Note from the BADvertising Institute: If the tobacco companies really cared about anyone but themselves, they would stop manufacturing tobacco products, find jobs for their employees with socially responsible companies, and go out of business.

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