A new study led by Linnea Laestadius, an assistant professor in the Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, finds that tobacco products are more aggressively marketed in Black and Latino neighborhoods of the city of Milwaukee than is the case in White neighborhoods.
Researchers conducted an audit of promotion and advertising practices at stores in three demographically distinct ZIP code clusters in the city. Store audits were conducted by public health workers and volunteers at 195 tobacco retailers during three months of 2016.
The researchers found that stores in the African-American and Hispanic areas were more likely to engage in tactics like placing tobacco next to candy, placing ads in the line of sight of children, and offering price promotions such as selling small cigars individually and for less than $1.
“The evidence is increasingly clear that children who are exposed to tobacco marketing in stores are more likely to start smoking,” Dr. Laestadius said. She sees this as the industry cultivating the next generation of smokers by targeting susceptible populations. “Addressing point-of-sale advertising would ultimately help us reduce the disparities we see in smoking-related diseases,” she said.