We’re starting a new series on our blog to share Success Stories. Our partners have achieved great successes in public health. We recognize their hard work and leadership in creating healthier communities. We hope these stories inspire your work around place-based public health.

Our first success story is about our work with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (VDBHDS). In 2015, VDBHDS and Counter Tools entered into a project to create an accurate state-wide tobacco retailer list. Deepening local understanding of the effect of the tobacco retailer environment on health enabled VDBHDS to develop a statewide infrastructure for tobacco use prevention and control and helped to identify and reduce tobacco-related disparities.

This project included:

  • Data integration and cleaning of retailer lists from FDA, Synar, and Dunn & Bradstreet
  • Ground truthing efforts to record GPS locations of all observed tobacco retailers
  • Store assessments, merchant education, and pledge forms for voluntary pro-public health changes
  • Using data to visualize retailer density and understand the impact of policy changes

With an accurate retailer list, VDBHDS continues to assess 100 percent of tobacco retailers across the state. These data collection efforts, along with the available analysis using Counter Tools software, have been integral for tobacco prevention and control staff across the state to better understand the effect of the tobacco retailer environment on health.

Read the full success story here.

Do you have a success story to share? Reach out at hello@countertools.org!