Assessing Retail Environments with STARS: Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings is a new report that describes four states’ experiences using the Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings (STARS). STARS is a user-friendly survey that streamlines the collection of data on tobacco price and promotion activity at the point of sale. Though STARS was released only one year ago, communities in half of the states are now using the assessment tool to build awareness, compare tobacco’s presence across neighborhoods, and gather evidence to support local and state tobacco control policies. The report is a product of the Advancing Science and Policy in the Retail Environment (ASPiRE) project, funded by the National Cancer Institute State & Community Tobacco Control Research Initiative. Through ASPiRE, CPHSS works with partners at the University of North Carolina and Stanford University to explore current policy activity addressing the tobacco industry’s influence at the point of sale.
The report shares the experiences of Oregon, Indiana, Vermont, and Texas to provide examples for other state and local tobacco control coalitions considering integrating STARS into their efforts. Common themes and highlights of the report include:
- Standardization enables comparison. STARS allows tobacco control partners to make comparisons across communities and over time, and to document tobacco-related disparities. While STARS is standardized, it can be modified. Users can add items to the assessment that are specific to their communities, like growing numbers of vape shops or new and emerging products.
- Locals know communities best. While STARS is often implemented at the state level, it is important to remember that local partners are most familiar with their communities. These partners are often in the best position to engage retailers, select assessors, and ensure that all appropriate data is collected.
- Identifying each community’s tobacco retailers is key to completing thorough assessments. The most direct way to find this information is through tobacco retail licensing, though Synar lists, liquor licenses, and information provided by local partners can also help.
- STARS builds evidence for policy change. Featured in the report is a crosswalk that connects individual STARS items with relevant point-of-sale policies states and communities can implement to limit tobacco’s influence in retailers. The crosswalk helps to narrow down all of the policies and focus on one or two options.
To read the full report, click here.