Study: O.C. shops make unhealthy buying too easy

A recent study says many of Orange County's supermarkets and convenience stores make buying tobacco, alcohol and other unhealthy items too convenient for kids.

The study is part of a statewide campaign called Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, which aims to improve Californians' health by "informing them about the impacts of unhealthy product marketing in the retail environment," according to an Orange County Health Care Agency news release.

The survey — which included data from more than 7,300 businesses ranging from big-box chains to drug stores in all of California's 58 counties — found that 76.7% of tobacco retailers in Orange County sell flavored tobacco products and are near schools.

Nearly 60% of the stores surveyed in Orange County sell e-cigarettes — a rate higher than the state overall. The number of retailers selling e-cigarettes has skyrocketed in the past two years, from 11.5% in 2011 to 45.7% in 2013, when the survey was taken.

The study also found that more than 87% of the county's stores sell "alcopops," or sweet alcoholic beverages popular with young people and 63% sell sugary drinks at their checkouts.

About 44% of the Orange County stores sell tobacco products near candy at their checkouts, and young people can buy the most popular brand of cigarillos for less than a dollar at 72.3% of stores.

While 60.9% of the stores in the county have "unhealthy exterior advertising," according to the survey, just 11.6% have advertising that touts healthy products.

Meanwhile, the study found about 40% of the stores surveyed in Orange County sell "good quality" fresh produce.

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