We Get It Submission- August 2018
Sridevi Mahidhara and Raina Jain
Children’s of Alabama took part in the Alabama Youth Tobacco Prevention Program again this year. We run the program with money from the Alabama Department of Public Health. We do activities that discourage kids in Alabama from using tobacco products. Tobacco products are things like cigarettes, chew, snuff, cigars, and cigarillos.
One activity we do is survey stores that sell tobacco products. We visit the store and count the number and types of tobacco products they sell. We also count the number of signs that advertise tobacco products. Two student interns worked for us, Sridevi Mahidhara and Raina Jain. Sridevi and Raina are in college to earn their Master’s in Public Health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Raina and Sridevi surveyed a total of 39 stores in the areas of Homewood, Irondale, Mountain Brook, and UAB during June of 2018. Out of all the stores they surveyed, 64 percent were convenience stores, 49 percent sold e-cigarettes, and all of the stores sold menthol and non-menthol cigarettes.
Sridevi and Raina learned several lessons. Most stores did not display a graphic health warning sign with a really gross picture of how tobacco can harm you. Many of the convenience stores they went to had a lot of tobacco advertisements on the windows on the front of the store. Sadly, most stores place their tobacco products near kid-friendly products like soft drinks, candy, chips, and ice cream. Most of the store owners were really helpful and participated in the survey. One store owner even mentioned that he gives chocolates as a reward to customers who quit smoking.
Sridevi and Raina suggested some counter-tobacco policies based on what they saw and the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement from 2015:
- Advertisements for tobacco products should not be where children can seem them because it may lead children to think that everyone uses tobacco products.
- Tobacco products should not be sold with fruity, sweet, or candy flavors, because kids might want to try those tobacco products.
- Places that do not allow smoking should not allow e-cigarettes or vape devices because they have nicotine and other chemicals in them which are harmful to children.
Sridevi and Raina had fun and learned some important lessons during their internship. Also, they helped Children’s of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Public Health better understand how tobacco companies try to advertise their products to children and teenagers.