Source:University of Otago, Wellington, 5 July
A new study led by University of Otago researchers 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.
Lead researcher Professor Richard Edwards from the Department of
Public Health says they 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.
For example, the proportion of children who had tried smoking but
were not regular smokers fell, from 23-24% in 2011 and 2012 before
the changes, to 17% in 2014. The proportion of smoking students who
were buying or trying to buy cigarettes from stores also
"This study provides strong evidence that
the removal of prominent point-of-sale displays from almost all New
Zealand dairies, petrol stations and supermarkets has protected
children from starting to smoke, and has contributed to reducing
smoking among schoolchildren to its lowest level for two decades,"
says Professor Edwards.
An earlier NZ study, from before the 2012 legislation came into
effect, found that children who frequently visited shops that sell
tobacco, such as dairies, convenience stores, supermarkets and
service stations, were at greater risk of trying smoking. When the
researchers compared these findings to the data for 2013, a year
after the tobacco display ban was implemented, the effects were
eliminated or weakened. This is evidence that frequently visiting
stores that sell tobacco is now much less likely to promote smoking
The findings contradict the assertions of the tobacco industry
that removing point-of-sale displays would not work. Professor
Janet Hoek from the Department of Marketing drew parallels with the
current debate about tobacco plain packaging.
"The tobacco industry has a history of saying that tobacco
control measures won't work and predicting disastrous effects, even
when the evidence suggests otherwise. They are currently making
such arguments to oppose the introduction of plain packaging. This
study shows once again that the industry is not to be trusted, and
that implementing rigorous tobacco control measures will help
protect children from becoming smokers and achieve New Zealand's
world-leading Smokefree 2025 goal," says Professor Hoek.
The study used data from the ASH Year 10 survey - an annual
classroom-based survey of around 25,000 Year 10 students that is
used to provide national data on smoking among school students in
New Zealand. It was published in the journal Tobacco
Control, the leading international journal for research into
tobacco control policy and practice.
The abstract is available online.