Effects on Youth of Exposure to Retail Tobacco Advertising1


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    This research was funded by Public Health Service Grant #CA 67850 from the National Cancer Institute.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lisa Henriksen, Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford University School of Medicine, 1000 Welch Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304. E-mail: lhenriksen@stanford.edu


The absence of significant restrictions on tobacco advertising in stores has prompted concern about the proliferation of these messages and their impact on youth. This is among the first studies to investigate the effects of adolescents’ exposure to retail tobacco advertising. Under the guise of testing teen-interest news stories, 8th and 9th graders (n= 385) saw photographs of a convenience store that was either dominated by or devoid of tobacco advertising while listening to a story about a proposed tobacco control law or one about teen food purchases. Regardless of the news story they heard, students exposed to the tobacco-saturated store perceived significantly easier access to cigarettes, believed more peers tried and approved of smoking, and expressed weaker support for tobacco-control policies than did the comparison group. The study results suggest that widespread tobacco advertising in stores might distort adolescents’ perceptions about the availability, use, and popularity of this product.