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Can J Public Health. 2008 May-Jun;99(3):166-71.

Tobacco promotions at point-of-sale: the last hurrah.

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Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, Toronto, ON.



The retail environment provides important opportunities for tobacco industry communication with current, former, and potential smokers. This study documented the extent of tobacco promotions at the retail point-of-sale and examined associations between the extent of tobacco promotions and relevant city and store characteristics.


In each of 20 Ontario cities, 24 establishments were randomly selected from lists of convenience stores, gas stations, and grocery stores. Trained observers captured the range, type and intensity of tobacco promotions from April to July 2005. The extent of tobacco promotions was described using weighted descriptive statistics. Weighted t-tests and ANOVAs, and hierarchical linear modeling, were used to examine the relationships between tobacco promotions and city and store characteristics.


Extensive tobacco promotions were found in Ontario stores one year prior to the implementation of a partial ban on retail displays, particularly in chain convenience stores, gas station convenience stores and independent convenience stores. The multivariate hierarchical linear model confirmed differences in the extent of tobacco promotions by store type (p < 0.01); in addition, tobacco promotions were found to be higher among stores close to a school (p = 0.01) and in neighbourhoods with lower median household incomes (p < 0.01). Independent convenience stores with a greater number of employees had more tobacco promotions; however, the relationship was reversed for grocery stores.


Tobacco promotions were extensive at the point-of-sale. Public health messages about the harms of tobacco use may be compromised by the pervasiveness of these promotions.

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