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Open Access Identifying Disparities and Policy Needs with the STARS Surveillance Tool

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Objectives: The Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings (STARS) tool has emerged as a means for health departments and community groups to gather evidence about point-of-sale tobacco marketing practices. This paper documents methods and findings from a multi-stakeholder effort using the STARS tool to identify point-of-sale tobacco disparities in Milwaukee, WI. Method: Three demographically distinct zip code clusters were identified, and random samples of tobacco retailers were drawn from each. Store audits were conducted by community tobacco control workers and volunteers at 195 tobacco retailers between July and September 2016. Results: Compared to retailers in the predominantly white zip code cluster, retailers in African-American and Hispanic zip code clusters engaged in more harmful point-of-sale practices, particularly with regard to the sale and display little cigars/cigarillos. Menthol cigarette marketing and promotion was most common in the African American zip code cluster. Conclusions:The STARS tool allowed for identification of previously undocumented disparities in the tobacco point-of-sale environment in Milwaukee and facilitated discussion about possible policy inter-ventions. The STARS tool offers an accessible, low-cost means of conducting store audits that allow for community engagement. However, state preemption remains a regulatory barrier to local policy action.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 2018

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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