FAIRFIELD — Stores that advertise cigarettes on the outdoor window, prominently feature tobacco products and sugary drinks inside and skimp on fruits and vegetables don’t make the grade in a new health survey.
Solano County participated in a statewide survey by the coalition called Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community. The results announced Wednesday looked at how product availability and promotion affects everyone, but particularly youths.
People doing the surveys went to 84 Solano County supermarkets, convenience stores, liquor stores, tobacco stores, small markets, drug stores and big-box stores. It looked at products deemed by the study as both healthy and unhealthy. Among the findings:
“I think the data is really the first step in bringing awareness to the fact that these issues exist in our community,” Solano County Chief Medical Officer Michael Stacey said Wednesday.
The next step is working with the community to come up with solutions, he said. That could be done through partnerships with retailers, new policies and city laws, he said.
“This is part of a long-term campaign,” Stacey said. “We’ll work on it and push through and address this issue over the long term.”
The Solano County Tobacco Prevention and Education Program had 83 volunteers survey local stores. Forty-nine of the volunteers were youths.
Armijo High School sophomore Grace Baxter volunteered. She said Wednesday that she now views stores in a different way.
“Whenever I go in a store now, I notice all the alcoholic beverages they have and the different forms they come in,” she said. “There’s a lot of flavored tobacco, like cigarillos. I see them all the time when I go into a convenience store now. It makes me a little touchy about it. I personally don’t like any of that stuff.”
She’d like to see the manufacturers tone it down a little and be less sneaky about their advertisements, Baxter said.
Fairfield High School sophomore Minica Champion went to four stores for the survey. She realized that tobacco flavors such as bubblegum and watermelon are targeted for kids, not adults, she said.
She’d like to see action taken so businesses that sell tobacco and alcohol do so in such a way that teenagers understand the products are harmful, Champion said.
Selling alcohol and tobacco to youths is illegal. The survey didn’t look at whether that is happening and to what degree in Solano County. But the study said that exposure to tobacco marketing in stores increases tobacco experimentation.
The study also looked at the marketing of soda, candy, chips and other foods it called unhealthy.
Go to www.HealthyStoresHealthyCommunity.com to view the study.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.