6 cigarette ad

A shop on Texas Street includes cigarette promotions in the window, Wednesday. (Glen Faison/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Study calls for healthier stores

By From page A4 | March 06, 2014

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:

  • 91 percent of the stores sell flavored tobacco products such as chewing tobacco and little cigars, compared to 79 percent statewide. Flavors range from grape to cherry to chocolate to mint.
  • 35 percent sell tobacco products near candy at the checkout counter, compared to 39 percent statewide.
  • 63 percent display sugary drinks at the checkout counters, compared to 56 percent statewide.
  • 38.2 percent have a selection of quality fruits and vegetables, compared to 33.2 percent statewide.
  • 25 percent sell low-fat or nonfat milk, compared to 37 percent statewide.
  • 76 percent sell alcohol, compared to 71.3 percent statewide.
  • 67 percent have alcohol advertising outside, compared to 54 percent statewide.

“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 [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 2 comments

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  • The MisterMarch 06, 2014 - 6:11 am

    Just as important... we need laws that require food made with GMO to be labeled as such. GMO mega-corps have pumped millions of dollars into lobbying politicians to keep GMO labeling off food products. For our health, we, the people, need to know what they've put in our food. Really... is that too much to ask?

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  • Tom AtosMarch 06, 2014 - 8:20 am

    This is more of a 'supply and demand' issue. You can cram these shelves full of fruits and vegetables, and they will sit there and rot. For those of us who like healthy food: when the local farms are producing, things are good. Othwerwise, what do we have? Raley's?

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