A recent evaluation of New Zealand’s point of sale tobacco display ban shows significant drops in youth smoking rates and smoking experimentation. Previous research has shown a strong relationship between visits to stores selling tobacco and smoking initiation. As shown in this study, take the tobacco display (e.g. a powerwall) away, and that relationship weakens significantly.
In July 2012, New Zealand implemented a point of sale tobacco display ban. By 2014, smoking experimentation among youth ages 14-15 dropped to 17%, down from 24% in 2011, current smoking dropped from 9% to 7%, and smoking initiation dropped from 13% to 11%. Social norms were also impacts, as perceived peer prevalence of smoking decreased from 44% in 2012 to 41% in 2014. The greatest reduction in perceived peer smoking prevalence was seen among current smokers. In 2014, there were fewer attempted purchases of cigarettes, and the relationship between frequency of visits to stores that sell tobacco and smoking experimentation weakened.
While other tobacco control measures such as increases in tobacco taxes, media campaigns, and smoke-free air policies were also implemented during this time period, this study shows the importance of reducing exposure to tobacco marketing as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce tobacco use and initiation among youth.
A total display ban would be likely to face legal challenges in the United States. However, the policy has seen additional international success. For more information review the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s “Best practices on implementation of the tobacco advertising and display ban at point of sale, a four-country study: Ireland, Norway, Finland, and the United Kingdom.”
Learn more about display bans and other restrictions on point of sale product placement.
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, 0, 1-7. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2015-052764