Are local stores doing enough to keep kids from alcohol and cigarettes? Humboldt’s last week of news

In the latest episode of Humboldt Last Week: The state released survey results that show Humboldt County kids might have more access to unhealthy products than the California average. That is, the availability and marketing of things like cigarettes, booze, and junk food to young people. 70 stores in the county that sell tobacco were surveyed.

Some of the results? A majority of the stores have booze at kid height or near candy and toys, a majority have candy-esque flavored alcohol, every single store had flavored Swisher Sweets cigars for less than a buck, a majority advertise unhealthy items, and only a third sell fruits and vegetables. About a third of Humboldt 11th graders binge drink -- almost twice the California average of 18 percent. And around 23 percent of Humboldt 11th graders use tobacco compared to the state average of 14 percent.

KIEM put out a poll that asked “would you like to see North Coast stores offer more healthy items?” 69 percent of viewers said yes and 21 percent said no.

Local store owners are tasked with choosing which items to sell, where to put those items, and how to advertise those items. Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Health Education Specialist Jay McCubbrey was asked what advice he would have for store owners looking to both achieve viable sales numbers while at the same time provide kids healthier direction.

“Buying habits change over time, with younger people paying more attention to healthy alternatives,” he said. “We’re hoping that as this trend continues, carrying healthier foods will make better business sense for local retailers.”

Also there’s the part of the Humboldt community that already make healthy choices. The aforementioned survey only took into account stores that sell cigarettes, not places that don’t sell tobacco like the North Coast Co-op, Eureka Natural Foods, Wildberries Marketplace, Chautauqua Natural Foods, farmers markets or even CVS who took a hard stance against selling tobacco despite how profitable it is.

“We’ve always taken pride in the knowledge base our younger patrons have,” said Cassie Blom, Marketing Director for the North Coast Co-op. “...We make purchasing and merchandising decisions that allow for healthy choices -- for example, we don’t merchandise candy at our check stands. At the same time, we’re very careful not to dictate values to our shoppers, nor do we make claims about any dietary choices being better than others. We feel our role is to be a resource, provide information to our community, provide a variety of options, and let our shoppers choose what is best for their own health and lifestyle.”

The story begins at 10:01.

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