The risk of 11 to 16-year-olds taking up smoking has reduced following the introduction; of a ban on the open display of tobacco products in the UK; according to a new University of Stirling study. The research also found that for that age group, the implementation of the policy by reduced cigarette brand awareness; it made cigarettes seem unappealing and made smoking seem unacceptable.
“The researcher work confirms that placing tobacco out of sight helps safeguard young people. Our findings help to justify this policy approach in the UK and elsewhere.” Previous research has shown that point-of-sale displays are used by tobacco companies to attract and communicate with consumers. Covering up displays is a measure designed to denormalize tobacco and counter these effects.
Display of tobacco products
In the UK, a ban on the open display of tobacco products at the point-of-sale was phased in between 2012 and 2015. In 2012, large stores and supermarkets in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland had to put tobacco products out of sight, before Scotland followed suit in 2013. Across the UK; smaller stores had until 2015 to adapt their displays to cover tobacco products.
The Youth Tobacco Policy Survey canvassed the views of 3,791 young people including 2,953 who had never smoked across the UK at three-time points, in 2011, prior to the implementation of the ban; in 2014, when the ban had partially implemented; and in 2016, following full implementation. At each stage, participants asked whether they noticed cigarettes displayed at point-of-sale; about their awareness of cigarette brands; and about their smoking susceptibility established by the absence of a firm decision not to smoke.
Each person was also asking about their support for the display ban; and whether it made cigarettes seem unappealing and smoking unacceptable. “Prior to the display ban, we found that young never smokers who noticed cigarettes displayed at point-of-sale, and those who aware of more cigarette brands; more likely to indicate susceptible to smoking.
The Smoking susceptibility
“Both partial and full implementation of the display ban followed by statistically significant reductions in youth smoking susceptibility and noticing cigarettes at point-of-sale.” Smoking susceptibility among never smokers decreased from 28 % pre-ban to 23 % mid-band, and 18 percent post-ban. Noticing cigarettes at point-of-sale decreased from 81 % pre-ban to 28 percent post-ban; cigarette brand awareness also reduced; with the average number of cigarette brands recalled declining from 0.97 pre-ban to 0.69 post-ban.
“They also found that young never smokers‘ support for a display ban was very high,” Dr. Ford continued. “For example, post-ban, 90 % of never smokers aged 11 to 16 years supported the display ban; while 77 % indicated that it made cigarettes seem unappealing, and 87 % that it made smoking seem unacceptable.”
“Glitzy displays and glamorous packaging helped the tobacco industry to lure the next generation of smokers into taking up a deadly addiction. But contrary to Big Tobacco’s belief that banning displays would make no difference this study shows that by putting cigarettes out of sight and out of mind far fewer youngsters are taking up the deathly habit.” The paper, “The impact of a ban on the open display of tobacco products; in retail outlets on never smoking youth in the United Kingdom: findings from a repeat cross-sectional survey before; during and after implementation.