What is tobacco point of sale?

Retail environments are the primary location for advertising and promotion of tobacco products. This includes advertising for cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes inside, outside and on the retail property. While tobacco advertising on television, radio and billboards is restricted advertising in the retail environment is largely under regulated.

Why is this important?

  • Research shows that tobacco marketing increases youth tobacco use and impedes current users’ attempts to quit.
  • Point of Sale strategies have been developed and put into place to enhance state and local tobacco control efforts in places all around the United States. However, Pennsylvania has no current strategies in place.
  • These strategies include targeting tobacco sales in the retail environment through licensing, regulatory, and legislative approaches, such as restricting where and by whom tobacco products may be sold.

Taking Action

The American Lung Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT) and the Tobacco Resistance Unit (TRU) partnered to implement a point of sale pilot in the city of Scranton. TRU youth from Dunmore High School were trained and were able to assess 81 tobacco retail establishments within the city. The data they collected was evaluated and compiled into an assessment report; some of the notable findings include that less than one sixth of retailers display a graphic health warning sign or Quitline sign, retailers directly target youth by locating tobacco near toys, candy, gum and by advertising at the child’s eye level, and cigarillos were marketed towards youth through lower price points and candy-like flavors. These data are currently being used to elicit local policy change to limit the number of tobacco retailers within close proximity to schools. 

This initiative has now expanded statewide including: Philadelphia, Allentown, Williamsport, Harrisburg, Beaver Falls, Pittsburgh, Erie and more!

Point of Sale Implementation Toolkit

Interesting in implementing Point of Sale efforts in your area? For questions and access to additional resources email Info@Pactonline.org.


  • The U.S. Surgeon General concluded that tobacco advertising and promotions directly cause both the initiation and progression of tobacco use among youth. [i]
  • A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that retail cigarette advertising increased the likelihood that youth would initiate smoking; tobacco industry pricing strategies led to increases in smoking initiation, experimentation, and regular smoking; and that reducing retail marketing practices would significantly decrease youth smoking. [ii]
  • A 2009 study in Tobacco Control found that among teens who visited a store with point of sale tobacco ads at least twice a week, the odds of initiating smoking more than doubled. [iii]
  • A 2008 study in Preventive Medicine showed that current smoking was three percent higher at schools in neighborhoods with more than five tobacco-selling retailers than at schools in neighborhoods void of such retailers. [iv]
  • A four country study found lower levels of impulse buying in countries where tobacco displays are banned as compared to countries where tobacco displays are not banned. [v]
  • Additionally, there is strong evidence of disproportionate tobacco marketing in low-income, minority communities. [vi]
Foot Notes

[i] Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults – A Report of the Surgeon General
Executive Summary 2012.
Available https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/preventing-youth-tobacco-use/exec-summary.pdf

[ii] Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, April 2018.
Available https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0008.pdf

[iii] Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, April 2018.  Tobacco Marketing That Reaches Kids:
Point-Of-Sale Advertising and Promotions
Available https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0075.pdf

[iv] Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, April 2018.
Available https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0075.pdf

[v] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. A Systematic Review on the Impact of Point-of-Sale Tobacco Promotion on Smoking 2014.
Available https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4832971/

[vi] Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, March 2018.  Tobacco Company Marketing to African Americans.
Available https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0208.pdf