WEST GARDINER — Healthy Communities of the Capital Area has announced that Four Corners General Store has been recognized for its efforts to curb marketing of tobacco to youth.

The store has become a Star Store as a responsible retailer that takes seriously its role as a community member in reducing the visibility of tobacco advertising to children, according to the agency.

“The sad truth is that the tobacco industry spends $59 million in Maine alone each year to promote its products. That means that youth are exposed to clever, aggressive marketing that requires our diligence,” said Joanne Joy, director of Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, in a news release.

The objective of the Star Store program is to reduce the amount of minors’ exposure to tobacco promotional messaging in retail stores, such as special price and discount signage, free branded promotional items, and general tobacco company in-store posters, signs and other visible logos. The Star Store program works in combination with NO BUTS! (Blocking Underage Tobacco Sales), the Maine CDC program to stop the illegal sale of tobacco to minors.

Randy Prince opened Four Corners General Store on Feb. 21, 2014. With the change in ownership, Four Corners has dedicated time to train its employees in several health promotion practices, including No Buts!, to reduce tobacco sales to youth; and responsible beverage selling, to reduce alcohol sales to youth.

“Taking down tobacco advertisement made sense for our store. We are very close to the elementary school and want to make sure kids stay tobacco-free. We are excited to set the example for other stores around us and hope the surrounding stores consider taking down some of their tobacco signs,” said Randy Prince, the owner of Four Corners General Store, in the news release.

Healthy Communities of the Capital Area is designated as the Healthy Maine Partnership serving 18 communities in southern Kennebec County and one town in Sagadahoc County. HCCA implements certain Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services and HMP tobacco prevention strategies in those communities.

Compiled from contributed releases