David Martin, owner of the Piggly Wiggly on Hilton Head Island and board member of LowCountry Alliance for Healthy Youth (LCAHY), decided to stop selling tobacco products at his store three years ago. One of the major reasons he made this decision was his desire to promote positive health choices to young people. After becoming involved with LCAHY, David learned about the lesser-known dangers and health risks cigarettes and similar products pose to youth and quickly realized he needed to change his store’s policy. Many of his teenage employees also expressed concerns about being able to successfully ID customers and experienced pressure to sell tobacco products to underage youth.
Although his decision may have initially cost the store some customers and profit, David continues to see the move as a positive one for his customers, employees, and himself. It has reduced the access to tobacco products in a popular beach area, heavily frequented by teens during the summer months. It continues to benefit the store, as he no longer has to deal with strict government regulation on tobacco products or fines for employees unintendedly selling to minors. It has created a positive environment for his younger employees, who no longer feel pressure to sell products to their peers and have become more open to talking about the dangers of tobacco and alcohol use with David and other staff members.
David hopes that by publicizing the benefits and minimal financial repercussions of his decision to stop selling tobacco products, other business owners will consider doing the same to help protect our local youth.