UW-Milwaukee study shows tobacco ads target minority children

Posted at 6:19 PM, Oct 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-11 19:19:54-04

Tobacco ads aimed at Latino and African American children?

A UW-Milwaukee researcher says it's a trend at corner stores and gas stations in certain zip codes.

This data was tracked after 195 stores in the Milwaukee area were audited back in 2016. The findings were recently released and the UWM author calls the trends disturbing.

The report shows tobacco retailers are three times more likely to be within 500 feet of schools in predominantly Hispanic and black neighborhoods compared to predominantly white neighborhoods.

"Unfortunately it's not that surprising, this is part of a trend that people have been seeing nationally for decades now so we know that there are clear disparities in tobacco marketing," said Dr. Linnea Laestadius with UW-Milwaukee.

Laestadius also says marketing practices in these areas show tobacco is more likely to be displayed near candy and within 3 feet of a floor, which is in line with kids’ eyesight.

"Studies have shown that for children, the more they're exposed to tobacco marketing in a store environment, the more likely they are to start smoking," she said.

Kaejae Johnson’s north side neighborhood was mentioned in the study and she's noticed the tobacco marketing while going to the store with her 4-year-old grand-daughter.

"She always asks like can she buy the products behind the window and I have to explain the difference between adult stuff and kids stuff," Johnson said.

“It should be some regulation," she said. "It should not be in eye view. My granddaughter stands this tall, she should not be able to see tobacco products, and it should not even be in her eye view."

Doctor Laestadius says as this study continues she plans to present the findings to policymakers in hopes of a change.