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.
Florida’s Alachua County – Leading the Way on Tobacco Retailer Licensing, Tobacco 21, and Restrictions Near Schools
Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco-Free Florida
Counter Tools has partnered with Florida since 2013 to survey the retail environment and spread awareness around healthy retail, and in more recent years the work has shifted focus to passing policies. In January 2019, Alachua County implemented a local tobacco retailer licensing policy, raised the minimum legal sales age for tobacco to 21, and required any new tobacco retailers to be located at least 1000ft away from schools.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment
Counter Tools supported the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to address two of their identified priority areas: preventing the initiation of tobacco use among youth and young adults, and addressing tobacco-related health inequities. This included point-of-sale training for KDHE’s Chronic Disease and Risk Reduction community grantees as well as youth Resist Chapters across the state. Following these training sessions, KDHE asked Counter Tools to lead a point-of-sale focused summer project for interested Resist Chapters.
Minnesota Department of Health
Counter Tools has partnered with Minnesota since 2012 to help support local areas in the state in their pursuit of policy change around tobacco. In 2019, the city of Golden Valley in Hennepin County, Minnesota passed a number of comprehensive tobacco prevention policies, including raising the minimum legal sales age to 21, banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, increasing tobacco product pricing, capping the number of tobacco retailer licenses issued, and more. In 2020, they passed additional regulations to restrict the location of tobacco retailers and their proximity to youth-oriented facilities. The use of local data, education efforts, and strong political and community support helped pass these policies.
Reality Check empowers youth to become leaders and fight against the tobacco industry through grassroots mobilization and education. Counter Tools has partnered with Reality Check since 2015 and conducts training sessions to educate youth on tobacco and advocacy work through rallying at the annual Altria shareholder’s meeting.
Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
Virginia and Counter Tools entered into a project in 2015 to create an accurate state-wide tobacco retailer list, utilizing data integration and ground truthing work. Deepening local understanding of the effect of the tobacco retailer environment on health enabled Virginia to develop a statewide infrastructure for tobacco use prevention and control.
Addressing and Improving the Landscape of Food and Alcohol Products in Stores – A Wisconsin Success Story
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Counter Tools has partnered with Wisconsin since 2016 to assist with data collection, provide understanding of data/trends, and support change related to tobacco, alcohol and food products in the retail environment. Wisconsin Department of Health Services implemented the Wisconsin Retail Assessment Project (WRAP) to increase knowledge about the retail environment, identify disparities, foster community awareness, and build public support towards interventions. Wisconsin serves as a good example of the importance of better understanding the retail environment through data collection, cross-sector collaboration in efforts, and increasing access to healthy products for the betterment of population health.
- ChangeLab Solutions
- Lee’s Summit CARES
- Public Health Law Center
- Community Advocates
- American Lung Association
- PEER Services
- Case Western Reserve University Prevention Research Center
- University of Kentucky
- CDC Office on Smoking and Health
- Charleston Center
- University of North Carolina
- University of Virginia
- CADCA Geographic Health Equity Alliance
- National Association of County & City Health Officials
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- Truth Initiative
- Reality Check
- Preventing Tobacco Addition Foundation / T21
What Our Partners Say
“Counter Tools has been a great partner and assists in implementing a statewide POS effort. We value their expertise and contributions to our team.”
“Counter Tools brings the expertise and education our youth need… The broader, deeper learning experience they provide gets our young people thinking Big Picture–about how they can get out and contribute to their local community AND change the world.”
“I can’t say enough how much I appreciate and value our partnership. We couldn’t be happier with the expertise, the TA, the software, everything. With your help, we have completely reinvented our Synar program and become one of the leaders across the state.”
“Innovative, engaging and will help continue momentum for local policy action.”
“They are thorough, responsive, and professional. Counter Tools staff is reliable and timely.”
In The News
Evaluation of neighborhood deprivation and store characteristics in relation to tobacco retail outlet sales violations
July 16, 2021 | PLOS ONE
This study used regression models to determine if tobacco sales to minors violations across Virginia were related to store characteristics and neighborhood deprivation and identify geographic areas at significantly elevated risk for violations. Data for this study was based on the tobacco retailers and violations tracked using Counter Tools software tools POST and Store Mapper.
Smokeless Tobacco Point of Sale Advertising, Placement and Promotion: Associations With Store and Neighborhood Characteristics
May 13, 2021 | Frontiers in Public Health
This study aimed to determine retail and neighborhood characteristics associated with smokeless tobacco (ST) product promotion, price promotion, and storefront advertising among retailers in Oklahoma. Project staff and OSDH partners attended a 2-day training provided by Counter Tools and collected retailer data via the Store Audit Center, an online survey platform created by Counter Tools. Findings of this study suggest there are currently ample opportunities for youth and adults at risk for tobacco initiation to be exposed to ST products in the retail environment.
March 2, 2021 | Journal of Cancer Education
A UNC Chapel Hill study on tobacco prevention and cessation websites featured CounterTobacco.org, a project of Counter Tools. This study sought to identify existing websites that archive tobacco prevention and cessation media content and to characterize the content and features of those websites.
February 16, 2021 | The Center for Black Health & Equity
Counter Tools staff member Mollie Mayfield shared insights in episode 15 of Black Body Health the Podcast to discuss how predatory practices and promotions affect the Black community – all for the sake of Big Tobacco’s profits.
January 22, 2020 | ABC17 KMIZ
The Columbia City Council of Missouri voted to take part in a pilot program to gather data on tobacco retailers in the city. This program, run by Counter Tools and Truth Initiative, aims to identify which retailers are selling tobacco and nicotine products within the community and if they are licensed, with the goal of informing future public health initiatives.
January 7, 2020 | Health Promotion Practice, SAGE Journals
The Department of Public Health Education at UNC Greensboro conducted analyses of tobacco ads at local retail stores. Using Counter Tools software they identified a sample of stores in communities of high African American population. They found that ads in these communities “disproportionately employ misdirection messaging strategies that prey upon and may thus exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.”
December 11, 2019 | Truth Initiative
Counter Tools partnered with Truth Initiative® on a pilot study using store assessment questions that focused on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
June 25, 2019 | CDC Office on Smoking and Health
The Indiana State Department of Health’s tobacco control program was featured in Programs in Action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health. Counter Tools helped train community organizations to study tobacco product availability and advertising in stores.
June 3, 2019 | Innovate Carolina
Counter Tools was featured in Innovate Carolina’s weekly newsletter, IN the Know, and gives an overview of the background of Counter Tools, our work, and partner successes. IN the Know shares interesting and inspiring news and updates about innovative and entrepreneurial activity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is where Counter Tools was founded.