Reality Check (RC) advocates love taking pictures of the tobacco industry’s deceitful tactics in store. So what better way to keep them engaged (and avoiding the summer brain drain) than inviting them to participate in Counter Tobacco’s 2016 photo contest, an annual event focused on exposing Big Tobacco’s Marketing Tactics at retail.

 Our young changemakers submitted photos that showcase Big Tobacco marketing tactics and promotional strategies in retail stores. Their work was included in a gallery of 40+ attention-getting photos from 16 different states (and some from as far away as Pakistan.) 

Winners were chosen in these categories:

  • Greatest Youth Appeal
  • Electronic Smoking Products and Vape Shops
  • Flavored Tobacco Products
  • Cheap Tobacco Products

Reality Check coordinator of our Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany region (TFCCA), Jonathan Chaffee, captured a winning shot with this gem in Wellsville, N.Y. He also captured first prize in the Greatest Youth Appeal category.

A message from Frozen sisters Elsa and Anna: Let It Go. (Your tobacco products, that is.)

Nora Galley, a Reality Check rock star from the Tobacco-Free Erie-Niagara (TFEN) group also scored a winning pic: the 50% off shot and winner of the cheap tobacco product category. Here’s the display from a store in South Buffalo, N.Y. 

Big Tobacco’s Tactics: 50% off, but still 100% damaging to your health!

An E-liquid display surrounded by greeting cards and candy galore is the scene captured by Nina Gregerson, in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s the official Grand Prize winner for 2016.


Big Tobacco’s Tactics: Candy canes, Kit Kats and E-juice, oh my!

Shashona MacPhee, an RC advocate from our Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming (Tobacco-Free GLOW) region, didn’t even let a family vacation stop her from contest competition. In her travels, she captured this in-store visual anomaly in Hilton, N.Y.:

This is what we call a formula for disaster!

This photo contest is a win-win. Why? Because The Surgeon General says that exposure to retail marketing encourages smoking and undermines quit attempts. According to the Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Reports, in 2013, the tobacco industry spent $8.6 billion dollars making their presence known in the retail environment. These images give tobacco control advocates like us tools to educate elected officials and community members about the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics.