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UCF Student–Led Task Force Protecting Orange County Youth

By Kent Donahue

June 23, 2021

Maria Pereira Villa, B.A.

Office of Community Health


ORLANDO, FL - The Point of Sale Task Force is encouraging University of Central Florida (UCF) faculty, staff, students, and the community to support their efforts in preventing initiation of tobacco use among Florida’s youth and young adults in Orange County.

Point of Sale is the tobacco industry’s main marketing method. By marketing and promoting in retail environments like gas stations and convenience stores, the tobacco industry manipulates retail environments to increase sales and tobacco use, often targeting vulnerable populations. Additionally, the “power wall” behind the counter of convenience stores, attracts smokers and nonsmokers with colors and flavors to promote impulse purchases. This overt display makes it more difficult for smokers to quit and more likely that youth and adults start smoking. Studies show tobacco use is associated with exposure to retail advertising and relatively easy access to tobacco products.

Led by UCF’s Smoke-Free Committee Chairwoman, Saoulkie Bertin; the Task Force visits various participating tobacco retail stores throughout Orange County ensuring compliance with Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) signed with the State of Florida, is met. The student-led Task Force receives training, goes out into the field, and collects data about many of the 1,469 retailers in Orange County. Dr. Owens added, “Through the surveillance surveying, the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) students have learned the importance of education and understanding of policy and the effect policy implementation has on tobacco retail. Exposure to tobacco products and advertising at the point of sale can affect initiation and smoking rates among youth.”

Moving forward, the task force will continue its outreach, surveying tobacco retailers in Orange county, and deliver educational efforts in our community to create awareness about tobacco industry tactics used at the point of sale and on menthol cigarettes being promoted more aggressively in low-income, minority communities. For more details about the UCF- Point of Sale Task Force, please contact – Mary Schmidt-Owens at

About the Florida Department of Health

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