Big Tobacco Still Marketing Addiction

Here is perhaps a little known fact: Walmart is the largest tobacco retailer in the US. This year one of our supporters was shocked to see tobacco products in display cases at child height. This tactic from Big Tobacco’s old playbook is certainly no accident. Big Tobacco understands marketing presence and is still attempting to gain new users by putting these products right in front of children’s faces.

Known as “power walls”, these cabinets are found in Walmarts and convenience stores across the country. Displaying dangerous tobacco products at children’s eye level persuades children to consciously or subconsciously use cigarettes.

Even when the walls only display cigarettes, studies have shown that these marketing displays influence youth to also use e-cigarettes. A study done by RAND Research found that, “Adolescents who were exposed to the power wall during a shopping trip were about 15 percent more likely to say they would be willing to use electronic cigarettes in the future as compared to adolescents who were not exposed to the power wall.”

Removing power walls from stores like Walmart would indeed help future generations from becoming addicted to nicotine and tobacco products. As stated by RAND, “Our findings provide evidence that hiding the tobacco wall in convenience stores might reduce the number of adolescents who try e-cigarettes,” said Michael S. Dunbar, the study’s lead author and a behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “This is evidence that the tobacco power wall helps influence the attitudes of adolescents toward not only combustible cigarettes, but vaping products as well.”

Read the full research article from RAND corporation here.

15 years ago, the RICO verdict in the Department of Justice case against Big Tobacco ruled that the tobacco industry violated racketeering laws and were thus ordered to make corrective statements at the point of sale.

However, Big Tobacco is STILL interfering with public health policy. They are STILL stalling on and combatting against providing these corrective statements at the point of sale. Avoiding this ruling means that Big Tobacco is shamelessly targeting children with their addictive nicotine products, including these power wall displays.

Read more about how Big Tobacco fights against public health policy and targets kids.

Read more:

  1. This study shows that hiding a tobacco product “power wall” significantly reduces adolescents’ susceptibility to future cigarette use:
    Hiding the tobacco power wall reduces cigarette
    smoking risk in adolescents: using an experimental
    convenience store to assess tobacco regulatory
    options at retail point-of-sale
  2. Vuolo, M.; Kelly, B.C.; Kadowaki, J., “Impact of total vending machine restrictions on US young adult smoking,” Nicotine and Tobacco Research 18(11): 2092-2099, November 2016.
    This study examined the impact of cigarette vending machine restrictions, intended as a tool to prevent sales to minors, on the smoking rates of young adults in the U.S. and concluded that, “Such policies are an effective but underutilized policy mechanism to prevent smoking among young adults.” file://I:\DBTEXT\Documents\S024215.pdf
    Exposure to the Tobacco Power Wall Increases Adolescents’ Willingness to Use E-cigarettes in
    the Future
  3. Increased Attention to the Tobacco Power Wall Predicts
    Increased Smoking Risk Among Adolescents

RAND Research Brief / Can Big Tobacco’s Power Wall Be Breached?