The Ohio State University College of Public Health recently released a study which shows that while there are zoning regulations in China which prohibit tobacco sales within 100 m of schools, enforcement of these regulations is minimal.
Trained students audited tobacco retail stores within 200 m of schools and residential neighborhoods in Changsha, China to determine the density of tobacco retailers in the area, the types of tobacco products sold and the marketing messages and warning labels that were displayed.
Audit findings showed that, on average, there were three tobacco retail stores within 100 m of a school and one-fourth of those stores displayed exterior tobacco advertisements. Tobacco displays targeting children were prevalent with nearly 83% of the stores displaying cigarettes near toys and candy.
“You would think that tobacco retail store density would be lower around schools where tobacco sales are prohibited, but it isn’t,” said Ling Wang, PhD ’16 and first author on the paper. “High density of tobacco retails stores with youth targeting tobacco displays near schools might have been and would continue to be a major venue for tobacco companies to recruit new smokers.”
As a result of these findings, the study reports that regulations need to be more strongly enforced regarding the ban of tobacco sales near schools and regulations are needed to limit marketing tactics at the point of sale and targeted to youth.