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Article | Impact of removing point-of-sale tobacco displays: data from a New Zealand youth survey

This new study suggests that July 2012 legislation that removed all point-of-sale tobacco displays from shops selling cigarettes has helped reduce smoking among New Zealand school students to record low levels.

The research published in the international journal ‘Tobacco Control’ included Year 10 students (age 14-15) at schools across New Zealand.

Led by ASPIRE2025 researcher Richard Edwards, the study found that the removal of point-of-sale (POS) tobacco displays, accompanied by increased enforcement measures and penalties for selling tobacco to minors, was followed by significant reductions both in experimental and regular smoking.

The findings contradict the assertions of the tobacco industry that removing point-of-sale displays would not work. ASPIRE2025 co-Director Janet Hoek drew parallels with the current debate about tobacco plain packaging.

The associated media release can be viewed here

Hear Richard Edwards discuss some of the key findings in this short video.

Article abstract

Introduction

The tobacco industry increasingly invests in point-of-sale (POS) marketing. In July 2012, New Zealand required the removal of POS tobacco displays concurrently with increased enforcement and penalties for selling tobacco to minors, and additional restrictions on tobacco sponsorship. We evaluated the impact of these measures using a before–after study.

Methods

We analysed data from annual surveys of more than 25 000 year 10 (14–15 years) students from 2007 and 2011 to 2014. Measures included prevalence of smoking-related behaviours and strength of association between visiting tobacco-retailing stores and smoking behaviours.

Results

Between 2011 and 2014, smoking experimentation (had smoked ever but smoked less than monthly currently) decreased from 23% in 2011 to 17% in 2014 (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.73, 95% CI 0.69 to 0.78); current smoking (at least monthly) prevalence from 9% to 7% (aOR 0.71, 0.64 to 0.79) and initiation in the last year from 13% to 11% (aOR 0.91, 0.84 to 0.98). Attempted purchase of cigarettes in the past 30 days among smokers decreased from 30% in 2012 to 26% in 2013 (aOR 0.77, 0.63 to 0.91). Positive associations between frequency of visiting tobacco-retailing stores and smoking-related behaviours weakened post-implementation.

Conclusions

The introduction of a POS display ban and concurrent measures was followed by significant reductions in initiation, experimental and regular smoking, attempted purchase of cigarettes, and reduced association between visiting tobacco-retailing stores and smoking behaviours. The findings suggest that POS display bans are important components of strategies to reduce smoking initiation among youth and young people.

Citation

Edwards, R., Ajmal, A., Healey, B., Hoek, J. (2016) Impact of removing point-of-sale tobacco displays: data from a New Zealand youth survey. Tobacco Control. Advance online publication doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2015-052764

For more information or to request a copy of the article, please contact:

Richard Edwards
University of Otago, Wellington
email richard.edwards@otago.ac.nz