News and Events

Counteracting Tobacco Marketing at Retailers in Okeechobee County
June 5, 2020

We as Floridians are encountering something that kills an average of three Floridians an hour, every hour of every day. It’s being colorfully promoted and is readily available at a place you visit frequently – your local convenience store or gas station. It’s tobacco products like cigarettes, dip and chew. And tobacco companies spend billions of dollars a year to market these addictive products at the “point of sale” – retail locations where tobacco products are sold. 

The tobacco industry spends the vast majority of their marketing money in the retail environment – over $1 million/hour to promote their products, in which, most of their marketing efforts are aimed directly to our kids. Essentially, the tobacco industry is buying shelf space to keep tobacco visible and offering price discounts to keep tobacco cheap. These companies are no fools, what they are really “buying” is youth who initiate the use of tobacco products and adults who cannot quit.

In efforts to combat these marketing tactics, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) has been digging dip in the retail realm of the tobacco industry for the past several years conducting local Tobacco Retail Assessments, store audits, meeting with retailers to ensure compliance, as well as educating decision makers and partners with our findings. 

A few of the most notable concerns in Okeechobee County are:

As you can see, the retail point of sale is a big issue here in our local community. To protect youth and improve public health, local governments are turning to tobacco retail licensing (TRL) to directly control the sale of tobacco products in their community.  Essentially, TRL is a local law that requires all businesses that sell tobacco products to obtain a license from local government. On an annual basis, retailers must fill out an application, pay a pre-determined fee, and meet any other requirements outlined in the ordinance.

TRLs grant local governments more control and greater oversight over tobacco-related activity in their community. They can oversee 1) who can sell tobacco products, 2) what types of tobacco products can be sold, and 3) the penalty structure for illegally selling to minors or for being noncompliant with other tobacco-related policies. 

Tobacco retail licensing has also been used to promote other innovative policy solutions, such as limiting the density of retailers per city square mile, banning establishments in close proximity to schools, and imposing additional restrictions on the sale and promotion of certain types of tobacco products that are particularly attractive to kids. Most importantly, local TRLs give counties and municipalities more control over how tobacco and nicotine products are sold.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County has created a POS task force – a team of individuals with a passion for improving the health of Okeechobee County residents, particularly our youth, who will help further analyze this data and determine how to create lasting change.

For more information on tobacco marketing at the retail point-of-sale, tobacco retail licensing, and what you can do to help, or to join our email list, please contact the Facilitator of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County: Courtney Moyett at or to learn more about the Partnership please go to our website: