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Store managers received financial incentives to promote tobacco products

A study by the Hebrew University found that the tobacco companies offer benefits and gifts to store owners to market their product in a prominent location and in a more beautiful display, and teach them how to circumvent the legislation that prohibits the advertising and display of the products

Cigarette "factory". Image:
Cigarette "factory". Image:

Research led by the university found that tobacco companies use direct marketing tactics with managers and store owners who sell tobacco products to ultimately influence the consumer. The study, recently published in the leading journal Tobacco Control, was conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr. Yael Bar-Zev and Prof. Hagai Levin from the School of Public Health at Hadassah University and Medical Center, in collaboration with researchers from George Washington University in the USA.

The researchers conducted a survey with 43 managers and store owners, such as kiosks, gas station convenience stores and neighborhood containers, where tobacco products were sold, and found Because the tobacco companies influence the stores by various means to influence the position of the products on the shelves and the way the product is presented to the consumer. Among other things, the tobacco companies give financial incentives to the store managers based on sales or the promotion of their products, invite them to parties, and even give discounts for personal purchases of their products. The research shows that the tobacco companies brief the store managers on how to communicate with customers about their products and how to deal with the new legislation related to the ban on advertising and the ban on displaying the products.

How to circumvent the legislation

"More than half of the research participants indicated that the tobacco companies gave them display cabinets or special signage for free, in order to deal with and circumvent the ban on displaying and advertising the products. More than a quarter of the participants stated that they received explanations about the new legislation and 11% even said that the explanations included instructions on how to circumvent the legislation. Dr. Bar-Zev explains. "In addition, we found that the tobacco companies invest in certain stores more than others, where they sell not only the cigarettes of the heated tobacco product but also the device itself." According to the researchers, these stores also had more special stands for product presentation and more direction and influence from the tobacco companies' salespeople.

In contrast to the comprehensive training that store owners receive from the tobacco companies, only a minority of the participants stated that they received training or direction from the government or the local authority about the new legislation. According to the team of researchers, the Ministry of Health and the local authorities should work directly with the shop owners and accompany the new legislation with training in the field, instead of abandoning the field to the tobacco companies. At the same time, the government must amend the existing legislation so that it prohibits the tobacco companies from direct contact and giving incentives to the stores themselves. According to Dr. Bar-Zev, "Although the State of Israel made a breakthrough and significant progress with the law prohibiting the advertising and marketing of tobacco products and their display at points of sale, our research proves once again that the legislation 'lags behind' the commercial companies that find different ways to circumvent it and continue to market the products."

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