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Letter | Eliminating tobacco point of sale displays: removing the retail detail from the devil

Summary: The research initiative for the 2025 countdown to end of tobacco in New Zealand has well and truly begun with the ASPIRE 2025 inaugural symposium, which brought together nearly 90 delegates on 29 September 2011 to consider removal of tobacco retail displays.

While the Smokefree Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Act 2011 (‘SECEA’) reflects a substantial evidence base, its effectiveness will depend largely on the regulations developed to implement its provisions.  Based upon the evidence discussed at the ASPIRE 2025 retail seminar, some of the key issues that regulators must consider include:

  • Implementation: timing, inclusiveness and specificity. We recommend that the regulations apply to all retailers equally, including duty-free, and that tobacco products be stored in drawers under counters with no overt visual cues.
  • What is left at point of sale?  We suggest that signs alerting customers to the availability of tobacco are no larger than business cards, since this size works well for Visa and AMEX signs. Further, we suggest the use of price lists, available only on request, and carrying warnings rather than price boards or tickets, which would be on continuous display.
  • New opportunities in the retail sector: looking to the future. Implementing a retailer licensing or registration scheme would enable greater monitoring of outlets selling tobacco, facilitate communication with tobacco retailers, and enable the implementation of further measures such as improving cessation advice and support in stores.

Despite the excellent progress the SECEA Act represents, the ASPIRE 2025 symposium reminds us that the task is not yet complete. Not only do the regulations accompanying the Act need to avoid problems experienced in Australia, but retail environments themselves require further analysis so we can avail ourselves of the opportunities they present to promote cessation.

Citation: Hoek, J., Jones, A., Edwards, R., Maubach, N., Crane, J., & Youdan, B., for the ASPIRE 2025 collaboration (2011). Eliminating tobacco point of sale displays: removing the retail detail from the devil. Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 124(1345).