“Young adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers” – Internal tobacco company quote
The tobacco industry markets tobacco to youth, and advertising in retail stores is intended to reach them. Cigarettes are marketed more often in stores where youth shop frequently: 3.4 times as many ads for cigarettes were found on windows of stores that were rated as most popular with youth. Research has found that tobacco marketing creates an environment in which youth think smoking is much more common and acceptable than it actually is.
Star Store is a voluntary program created to encourage the responsible retailing of tobacco products. In combination with NO BUTS! it helps advance best retailing practices further by reducing the exposure of tobacco messages, advertising, and promotion to youth by reducing or eliminating the visibility of tobacco marketing to kids that leads to tobacco use.
Star Store helps retailers promote themselves within their community and around the state. The designation can be displayed prominently in the store as a decal, and is accompanied by local and statewide public relations and promotions.
Being a Star Store can also make your store more inviting to customers. Studies show that reducing the volume of messages and advertising signage in your store can increase “shopability,” or the ability of your customers to enjoy patronizing your store.
Youth involvement is the most important part of the Star Store program. Youth representatives from the Youth Advocacy Program select stores, survey stores, train owners and managers, make recommendations, and recommend stores for Star status. Their participation adds to the effectiveness of this program, since it brings retailers face to face with those who are most affected by their policies.
Youth receive special training to learn how to make the initial contacts and survey the stores in detail. They also gain an understanding of how the tobacco industry uses marketing and advertising to influence young people to use tobacco.
The Star Store initiative is being conducted as a pilot project in three communities in Maine. If successful, it will be modified and rolled out statewide. The program is being launched with training for both the youth and their adult Youth Advocacy program coordinators. While both participating NO BUTS! and non-participating retailers will be contacted, non-participating retailers will be asked to join the NO BUTS! program in order to receive Star Store recognition.