Images of Kitsap County
Public Communications (MS-11)
614 Division Street, Port Orchard, WA
Phone: 360.337.4598


November 16, 2005
Contact: PJ Callahan, Board of County Commissioner's Office
Phone: 360-337-4481
No. 05-22

Youth Participant Media Interviews Available!

Grocery Retailers Asked to Examine Tobacco and Alcohol Marketing and Merchandising

PORT ORCHARD, WADo Kitsap grocery retailers market and merchandize tobacco and alcohol in a way that encourages underage use? That is the question a group of 25 youth and adult volunteers set out to answer on October 29. Breaking into small teams, the group surveyed 50% of the 140 grocery stores in Kitsap County as part of the “Hands Off Halloween!” Community Survey.

Based on their observations, the group found 44% of the stores used advertising images that appeal to youth (i.e. race cars, inflatable toys and cartoon characters), and 54% had alcohol products or alcohol-related advertising placed close to youth items (i.e. toys, candy or soft drinks).

Some shocking or surprising finds included “a row of a Budweiser right above a row of pop,” “a cute puppy holding a beer container” and “lighters by candy where kids could play with them.” Others observed prominently displayed Halloween-related decorations over beer displays and on cooler doors.

The stores surveyed fared slightly better when it came to tobacco observations. 96% of the stores surveyed secured cigarettes adequately, while 74% secured other tobacco products (i.e. chewing tobacco and cigars) adequately. Only 29% used ads that appeal to youth, and 30% had tobacco products or advertising placed close to youth items.

According to Mary Ellen de la Pena, coordinator of the survey group, the good news is “a number of stores were open to suggestions from the survey team for changing how they do business.” “Some stores have cut down on the number of tobacco and alcohol advertisements, and several store managers asked survey teams about how they could do a better job advertising and placing alcohol and tobacco products." 

As a result of their observations, the survey team offered the following five tips to retailers to help reduce underage use of adult products and the perception that adult products are readily available to underage youth:

  • Reduce the number of alcohol and tobacco advertisements inside and outside the store.

  • Ensure all tobacco products (including chewing tobacco and cigars) are behind the counter or in a locked cabinet.

  • Put alcohol products in a place separate from soft drinks and away from toys and candy.

  • Eliminate use of images and items attractive to underage youth to sell alcohol and tobacco. (i.e., race cars, cartoons, stuffed animals, sports-related icons).

Three small grocery stores, including Westpark Chevron (Bremerton), Bethel Chevron (Port Orchard) and M & N Market & Deli (Port Orchard) will be recognized at a Kitsap County Board of Commissioners meeting on November 28 for their “responsible marketing, merchandising and sales of alcohol and tobacco products that demonstrates a commitment to the safety, health and well being of the youth in Kitsap County.”

"Hands Off Halloween" is a national initiative that was started in 1994 by Laurie Leiber, Director of the Center on Alcohol Advertising, to stop beer promotion to children. According to Leiber, "An adult product like beer and a children's holiday don't mix. . . . If the beer manufacturers were telling the truth when they say they only want to reach adults with their advertising and promotions, they would agree to stop exploiting images associated with a children's holiday."

For more information about the survey results, or how retail stores can help reduce underage use of adult products, contact Mary Ellen de la Pena at 360-337-4878.

To contact the Kitsap County Public Information Office, 
call PJ Callahan at 360-337-4481 or email:

Last Updated:  May 27, 2014