Tobacco display bans protect youth and quitters

September 2, 2014 , University of Otago

Ending the display and promotion of cigarettes and tobacco in retail shops helps prevent young people taking up smoking and keeps quitters on track, according to new University of Otago research.

The research, led by Lindsay Robertson of the University's Cancer Society Social & Behavioural Research Unit, reviewed all studies published since 2008 that investigated the relationship between in retail stores and smoking.

Of the 20 studies Miss Robertson and colleagues reviewed, nine specifically examined children and adolescents, and each found that the more often young people saw tobacco displays or promotions in retail stores, the more likely they were to smoke.

"The evidence suggests that if tobacco is no longer openly displayed in stores, young people change the way they think about smoking - they see it as being less common. This finding is very important because we know that the less common smoking is seen to be, the less likely will smoke", says Miss Robertson.

For adult smokers, exposure to tobacco displays in stores appears to increase the risk of impulse tobacco purchases as well as smoking. Smokers are more likely to persevere with a quit attempt if they are not tempted by tobacco displays when they go into a shop, she says.

New Zealand enacted legislation to prohibit the display of tobacco in shops and other outlets such as bars in July 2012. The evidence reviewed suggests this measure will support the government's goal of a Smokefree nation by 2025 by reducing youth initiation and supporting smokers making quit attempts. Miss Robertson concluded: "Other countries wanting to reduce prevalence should also consider banning point of sale displays of tobacco."

More information: Lindsay Robertson, Rob McGee, Louise Marsh, and Janet Hoek. "A systematic review on the impact of point-of-sale tobacco promotion on smoking." Nicotine Tob Res first published online August 30, 2014 DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntu168

Provided by University of Otago