With the continuing rise of students who participate in under-aged smoking, Salem High School SADD members have spent the last few years, in partnership with Rhonda Mills at the PACT office, giving multiple presentations to the 6th grade classes on the targeted advertisements of tobacco, e-cigarettes, and nicotine towards young audiences.

The presentation was possible with the help from partnerships with the following groups: Washington County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation of Hoosier Hills PACT, Salem Community Schools and Washington County and Substance Abuse Council.

The program gathered information from questions given to residents in 39 of the 92 Indiana Counties, using store assessments completed using the Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings, known as STARS. Data was collected on product availability, price and promotions and product advertising. This included 2,985 assessments completed in the 39 Indiana counties and 22 assessments completed in Washington County. 

The presentation, which was held earlier in November, started by describing how tobacco and e-cigarettes are point-of-sale marketed, in examples; price promotions, such as discounts, product placement, generally placing them near the height of a child to lure a younger audience and placing them near common areas in stores to attract attention. 

¨Stores will place tobacco products 3-4 feet from the ground, around eye level of a child,¨ said SHS SADD member Delainey Predmore . 

In addition to point-of-sale marketing, it was recorded that more than $8.4 billion was spent on tobacco marketing in 2020, around one million dollars per hour.

 It was also recorded that 89% of which was spent on price discounts to be perceived as “affordable”. This all comes to an estimated $284 million spent on tobacco marketing annually, which equates to $42 per Hoosier. 

SHS SADD members went in depth on the tobacco retail environment in Washington County. With an Indiana statewide number of tobacco retailers at 6,131, and 24 of which being in Washington County, SADD members were quick to point out the large amount of tobacco-based products in Washington County. 

Within the tobacco retailer density, 0.8 of 0.9 is in Washington County, and all 4% of tobacco retailers within 1,000 feet of a school is in Washington County. Forty-three percent of tobacco retailers within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer lie in Washington County out of 46% statewide. 

SADD members mentioned the ¨candy¨ method, where they’ll offer fun flavors, such as cotton candy, mango pineapple, strawberry guava, etc., mimicking candy and slushies, sweet treats that children can relate to.

Tobacco and e-cigarette companies will put aesthetically pleasing packaging, with different colors and shapes, attempting to appeal to everyone. SADD found 100% of Washington County tobacco retailers offered flavoring options. 

¨Teens are hospitalized from vaping incidents,¨ added Predmore.

In addition to the presentation, there were four panelists present: Judge Frank Newkirk, Salem Superintendent Dr. Richard Rutherford, Mayor Justin Green and Indiana State Representative J. Davisson.

Newkirk started off with the estimated 10 years smoking cuts off your life, describing it as greed, and giving a personal story on his parents, who both died from smoking. “There’s some decisions you can make that can ruin your life,” he said. 

Rutherford gave the advice of KISS; Keep, It, Simple, Stupid. He reminded students that they are targeted and to avoid peer pressure, stating how strong the word ¨no¨ can be. 

¨Life is full of decisions,¨ he said. ¨Make the right decision.¨