“Your Cancer and Drug Store,” is a walk-in exhibit parody of a pharmacy convenience store. The satirical installation, with countless signs promoting only one product – cigarettes – exposes visitors to the contradictory image of retailers that portray themselves as partners in health care while profiting from cigarette sales.
The exhibit aims to raise awareness of how the tobacco industry has used its vast resources and marketing skills in alliance with retail stores to sell tobacco as if it’s just an ordinary consumer product.
Alan Blum came up with the concept for “Your Cancer and Drug Store” 15 years ago when he purchased the contents of an actual convenience store in Hartford, Connecticut, called the Nutmeg Shoppe. The owner had saved virtually every cigarette advertising display and promotional item for 20 years. The exhibit originally debuted in June 2009 at the National Conference on Tobacco Or Health in Phoenix.
“Years ago the cigarette industry spent their marketing dollars on clever TV, magazine, and newspaper ads, sports sponsorships, and billboards. However, as the devastating health and economic toll taken by tobacco became more widely recognized, these outlets were eliminated. But like a weed that can’t be killed off, the tobacco industry has shifted its marketing to retail stores, the internet, direct mail, and bars and nightclubs.
The in-store promotions are carefully crafted to attract new tobacco users and maintain the addiction of those who smoke,” said Dr. Blum. “By exposing the tactics of the tobacco industry, we can educate the next generation to laugh these pushers out of town.”
Supporters and contributors to “Your Cancer and Drug Store” include K. Michael Cummings, PhD, Roswell Park Cancer Institute; Cheryl Healton, PhD, American Legacy Foundation; Lori Jacobi, archivist, The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society;” Don and Pat Morris, Arizonans Concerned About Smoking; and Eric Solberg, former Director, Doctors Ought to Care (DOC). Architect Rich Ritzenthaler designed the exhibit.