Survey finds stores offer plethora of unhealthy products for kids

Officials launch 'Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community' campaign

Public health agencies throughout the Bay Area and the state unveiled a new campaign Wednesday based on the idea that people are only as healthy as

the offerings at their nearest store.

The statewide "Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community" campaign relies on data released today from a massive statewide survey of more than

7,300 retailers underlining the link between local store environments and community health, with a focus on health impacts on children.

Health advocates hope the findings reveal how easy it is for kids to find flavored tobacco, alcohol and junk food at their neighborhood stores.

The campaign's ultimate goal is to promote community dialogue about and make both stores and their customers healthier, Bay Area health agency representatives said.

Survey data released today show that young people statewide and throughout the Bay Area are still targeted by tobacco, alcohol and junk food advertisers.

"As adults, we may have become desensitized to the unhealthy advertising and products in stores," said Dr. Sara Cody of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

"Kids are much more sensitive to and likely to be influenced by clever marketing of products like tobacco and alcohol," she said.

Under the influence of that marketing, kids are often steered toward choices that can lead to hefty health consequences that include obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease, Cody said.

Of the hundreds of Bay Area stores surveyed last summer as part of the Healthy Stores campaign, 83 percent sold flavored non-cigarette tobacco products and are within 1,000 feet of a school, according to the survey data.

About eight in 10 Bay Area stores sold sugar-laden malt alcoholic beverages known as alcopops, and some 52 percent of stores near Bay Area schools sell sugary drinks at checkout, the survey shows.

At a news conference announcing the Healthy Stores campaign in Martinez today, Contra Costa Health Services director of Public Health, Dr. Wendell Brunner, gave a local example of kids' easy access to small, flavored cigars called cigarillos.

Brunner said watermelon-flavored cigarillos are sold three for a dollar at a store across the street from a Pittsburg high school.

"I don't think there can be any doubt that these products are being targeted at kids," he said. "The candy flavoring makes the tobacco more palatable to a new smoker, and the price is right for youth without a lot of money to spend."

Several youth volunteers who took part in the survey said today that when they look beyond their school campuses for the nearest snack, the unhealthy options are the most readily available.

Tenzih Chinkarlaprang, a volunteer from Berkeley, said when she and her friends are looking for a quick after-school bite, the nearest corner store is the most convenient option.

Once inside a store, it's often the more sugary products that catch the eye, she said.

At a gas station minimart next to her school, Gatorade and soda tends to be cheaper than water, Fairfield High student Minica Champion-Benjamin noted.

Options like apples -- if you can find them -- are almost always pricier in convenience stores and corner markets, said Nicholas Reed, a youth volunteer from Contra Costa County.

In addition, low-income children and youth of color are more intensely targeted by alcohol, tobacco and junk food marketers, said Kimi Watkins-Tartt, the Alameda County Public Health Department's deputy director.

"For example, those of us who live in poor neighborhoods live an average of 10 years less than those in more affluent neighborhoods," she

said. "But we can change this...part of the change is understanding that harmful products are marketed and sold to youth, especially in communities that face multiple barriers to good health."

Many Bay Area community leaders have already enacted legislation to curb access to unhealthy products, said Brunner.

For example, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recently banned the use of e-cigarettes wherever tobacco use is prohibited and

Berkeley city leaders are considering a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products near schools, he said.

Laura Dixon, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service


Posted by Wondering, a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 6, 2014 at 8:41 am

When I was young- I loved to eat those candy cigs. But I never smoked in my life. However, I now eat FAR TOO MUCH sugar. SUGAR is also a huge problem.

Posted by Free Market Guy, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 6, 2014 at 9:23 am

Smells exactly like something Michelle Obamba would want to stick her big nose into. Classic government overreach. If retailers want to sell sugar, it's their Constitutional right to do so. Just watch, Moonbeam and the democrat commies will try to turn this into some kind of restrictive law.

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2014 at 9:31 am

You think there are problems now!? Just wait until they make pot legal!!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 6, 2014 at 11:20 am

Pot is legal = medical mary-anna

Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2014 at 11:55 am

Such a law would hold up in court. It is, after all, in the state's interest that the people should be healthier. It's in all our interests, for that matter. While I agree that the stores just sell what sells, and that restricting that is problematic, there is an argument for a supply-side remedy to the health problems so many Americans are walking around with...

Posted by rick, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Tobacco ...

One of the worst 'products' ever. It not only affects the smoker, but anyone near the smoker. Watching a relative spend years gasping for breath was painful - to say the least. Death did not come 'quietly'.

Dying a slow death from Emphysema is worse than most things I can think of. Constantly out of breath, gasping like a fish out of water. Activty coming to a halt.

I pray for those addicted to tobacco. With the Overwhelming evidence we now have, that it kills – and does so in horrid ways – I am amazed how many still continue, and how many young kids are susceptible. I also pray for the day when we don't have to talk about banning it because humans finally wake up and STOP SMOKING.

Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

More nanny state BS. Somehow, people that managed to use self control, parental supervision and just plain common sense, survived and thrived for decades without the state having to wrap them in an invisible, taxpayer funded bubble. The lack of common sense amongst young consumers is a direct reflection of their subpar education and bad parenting. In a free country, (which this used to be) this would not be considered a supply side issue, but a demand side issue.
Regarding Cholo's comment, gleefully extolling 'medical' pot, I wonder what you thought of the 3 Sonora third grade boys, mentioned on this morning's news, who were busted trying to smoke pipe full of medical pot they acquired? Supply and demand indeed.

Posted by Free Market Guy, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I've smoked all my life and I expect to live to be 100. If I die it will be on account of being overtaxed by a tyrannical government. Rick sounds like he's a democrat who works for the government. People get hit by cars all the time. Do we want to ban cars or make them impossible to afford which is the same ting?

Politicians take notice. I smoke and I vote!!!

Posted by Free Market Guy, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Back when I was in college there were beanbag ashtrays on every desktop in every classroom. Back then people were free to smoke, not any of this Nanny state BS. Smoke in the classroom, smoke in your car, smoke in the restaurant. And if people didn't like the second hand smoke they were free to exit the classroom or restaurant. But, you know what, even nonsmokers tolerated it because that was considered a price of freedom. People were happy to breathe other people's smoke for the sake of preserving our constitutional freedoms. Even one of our greatest presidents, Benjamin Franklin, smoked for most of his life. People lived longer back then too. It's a fact. Look it up.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 7, 2014 at 10:22 am

Do we have any courtesy and self control anymore?

Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 7, 2014 at 10:25 am

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

cholo, as always, you add sooo much value to the conversation. What doctors said about what that medicinal pot would do to your remaining brain cells is true. It's sad to witness, really.

Posted by Henry, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:14 am

Given the pressure of underfunded pension and retiree health insurance plans on local and state financial stability, one might make a modest proposal that the government should encourage behaviors to decrease life expectancy, not increase it. Of course, one would want to do this without increasing younger age health insurance costs too much. Perhaps we should encourage, not discourage, smoking. The cost of treating relatively short-lived lung cancers is easily offset by the decrease in social security and pension and retiree health payouts. Such analysis could be applied to sugar and diabetes, although this might not have such a clear-cut answer. Those healthy people living longer lives with regular joint replacement surgery resulting from so much exercise and healthy diets are driving us into civil bankruptcy. Sincerely, Jonathan Swift.

Posted by Cholo Pololo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

medicinal merry-anna is highly recommended by many docs

a very good friend of mine has a mom who uses medicinal merry-anna and it has improved the quality of her life


tweety weedy! tweety weedy!

ps tweet tweet tweet

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:34 am

Dr. Gupta: Web Link

The above article is about Medical Marijuana.

Posted by Pololo Mololo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

Sugar Diabetes! Multiple causes.

Web Link

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 7, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Arguments Pro/Con - Marijuana:

Web Link

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 7, 2014 at 3:01 pm

American Society of Addiction Medicine: Marijuana

Research articles available.

VIVA ASAM! VIVA! I've attended numerous conferences and they are very informative.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 7, 2014 at 3:03 pm

American Society of Addiction Medicine: Web Link

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