Study Finds Tobacco Sales and Advertising Near Filipino Schools
An observational study found that tobacco and nicotine product sale and advertising persist within proximity of schools in the Philippines, despite regulations prohibiting sales, displays, advertisements, and promotions of tobacco products within 100 meters.
The study monitored the sale and marketing of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and heated tobacco products (HTPs) at 6,617 retailers within 200 meters of 353 schools in urban and rural areas of nine Filipino cities/regions, during the months of December 2022 to January 2023. In violation of Filipino law, 2,070 cigarette, 43 e-cigarette, and 33 HTP retail locations were observed within 100 meters of the majority of the observed schools.
Tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship targeting youth at points of sale are common tobacco industry tactics that can lead to youth tobacco initiation and reinforce use among those who currently use these products. Young people and adolescents can be particularly susceptible to the influential effects of point-of-sale marketing such as strategically located product displays, sales of single sticks (which make cigarettes more affordable), and prominent advertising—including at children’s eye level.
Findings show that, despite policies requiring signage indicating that sales are prohibited to people under 21 years of age, only 11% of cigarette retailers, 4% of e-cigarette retailers, and 48% of HTP retailers had the requisite signage visible. 98% of cigarette retailers sold single sticks, and indoor and outdoor advertising (e.g., graphic printed signage/posters) were common across all retailer types.
Flavored tobacco and nicotine products were also commonly available across retailers, including in 90% of observed cigarette retailers and 98% of observed e-cigarette and HTP retailers. Flavors can increase product appeal by masking the harsh taste of tobacco and are linked to increased initiation among young people.
“Stricter enforcement of existing policies prohibiting sales and advertising of tobacco products within 100 meters of schools and implementation of a national comprehensive policy on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship can protect the well-being of Filipino youth and reduce the rate of tobacco-caused death and disease in the Philippines,” said Assistant Scientist Jennifer Brown, the study’s lead investigator.