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Study: County Ranks Higher in Tobacco Sales Near Schools

Study: County Ranks Higher in Tobacco Sales Near Schools
New data reveals that Tulare County has more stores that sell candy, mint, and liquor flavored non-cigarette tobacco products and are near schools than the state-wide average. This finding is part of new data released this week on the availability and marketing of tobacco, alcohol, and unhealthy food products in stores that sell tobacco.
 
The state-wide survey collected information from more than 7,300 retail stores – including convenience, supermarket, liquor, tobacco, small market, discount, drug, and big-box stores – in all 58 counties, to shed light on what products are most promoted in our communities. Nearly 700 public health representatives, community volunteers and youth participated in the survey.
 
“There are too many stores near to schools that are marketing and selling tobacco and alcohol products to our young people here in Tulare County,” said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer.  “HHSA and our community stakeholders are committed to partnering with quick mart stores, school officials, and parents in Tulare County to make our community healthier and more aware of the dangers of tobacco and alcohol consumption.”
 
Survey results for Tulare County show positive statistics for the percentage of stores that accept CalFresh or WIC, stores that feature healthy exterior advertising, and a lower percentage than the state on stores that sell e-cigarettes.  However, these negative outcomes remain a grave concern for Tulare County officials:
 
85.3% of stores sell candy, mint, and liquor flavored non-cigarette tobacco products and are near schools, compared to the state average of 75.3% 
84.6% of stores sell tobacco products and only  31.6% sell milk, versus the state average of 79.4 and 37.2% 
Only 33.8% of stores sell fresh fruits or vegetables, compared to the state average of 42.4%
58.9% of Tulare County stores sell sugar sweetened beverages at the check-out and are near schools, as compared to only 55.6% state-wide
82.6% of stores sell alcohol, versus the state-wide average of only 71.3% 
69.2% of stores sell chewing tobacco versus the state average of only 56.1%
 
Results suggest a relationship between these negative statistics and outcomes like:
 
72.5% of adults in Tulare County are overweight or obese as compared to the state average of only 59.8%
41% of youth used alcohol in the past 30 days as compared to the state average of 35%
17.8% of adults and 12% of youth smoke in Tulare County versus the state average of only 13.8% of adults and 10.5% of youth
 
 “The need for easy availability of healthy fruits and vegetables is one of the most important issues in Tulare County, and one that can either lead to a healthy lifestyle, or to a rise in chronic disease and obesity levels in both our children and adult populations,” said Tammie Weyker, Media Spokesperson for Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency. “We want to work with our small business owners on choosing to carry fresh fruits and vegetables and still meet and exceed their bottom line so that our families can have the option to feed their children healthier foods.”
 
Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community is a statewide campaign - formed by tobacco prevention, nutrition, and alcohol prevention partners working in collaboration - to improve the health of Californians by informing them about the impacts of unhealthy product marketing in the retail environment.