Skip to content

Article | New Zealand tobacco control experts’ views towards policies to reduce tobacco availability

Dramatically changing the way tobacco is sold will be a crucial step in achieving the Government’s 2025 smokefree goal, according to this new ASPIRE2025 research, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The study, which involved in-depth interviews with 25 experts across the tobacco control sector found they viewed a large reduction in the number of places selling tobacco as critical to achieving the 2025 goal.



Higher tobacco retailer density promotes smoking by making cigarettes more accessible and available, and by increasing environmental cues to smoke. We aimed to examine tobacco control experts’ views on
policies that could reduce tobacco retail availability.


Telephone interviews with 25 individuals drawn from academia, non-governmental organisations, Maori and Pacific health, smoking cessation services, district health boards and other
public health-related organisations. We used a semi-structured interview guide to explore the perceived importance of reducing tobacco retail supply, views on di erent policy options and barriers to policy
adoption. Qualitative content analysis was conducted using transcripts as the data source.


Participants believed tobacco retailer licensing was an important short-term step towards the 2025 goal. In the long-term, participants envisaged tobacco only being available at a small number of
specialised outlets, either pharmacies or adult-only stores. To achieve that long-term scenario, participants suggested a sinking-lid policy on licences or a zoning approach could be adopted to gradually reduce outlet density. Policies banning sales at certain types of outlet were not considered feasible.


There is tension between the tobacco retail reduction policies seen as more likely to be politically acceptable, and the need to make substantial changes to the tobacco retail environment by
2025. Future research could investigate possible legal mechanisms for requiring existing tobacco retailers to transition out of selling tobacco.


Robertson, L., Marsh, L., Hoek, J., McGee, R. (2017) New Zealand tobacco control experts’ views towards policies to reduce tobacco availability. New Zealand Medical Journal , Vol 130 No 1456

To read the full journal article visit New Zealand Medical Journal (password access is required for this article until December 2017)

Or for a discussion of the findings please see the media release

For more information please contact:
Lindsay Robertson
University of Otago


%d bloggers like this: