(RxWiki News) Removing tobacco displays in shops can alter young people's attitudes toward smoking, while not hurting the retailers' sales.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham's UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies looked at the effects of removing tobacco displays in the Republic of Ireland. Their findings, published in the journal Tobacco Control, show that once tobacco displays were removed, the number of teenagers who remembered the displays dropped from 81 percent to 22 percent. Additionally, before the removal of the displays, 62 percent of young people believed smoking was common among children their age. After the removal, this number fell to 46 percent.
"Our research shows that removing point of sale displays of tobacco has a measurable impact on how young people think about tobacco, and helps underline that they are not 'normal consumer products'," says Professor Ann McNeill, lead researcher on the project. She also adds, "Removing cigarettes from sight will stop smokers from being constantly remind of tobacco."
In a related study, McNeill and her team studied the effects on sales as a result of removing the tobacco displays. They concluded that the measure implemented in Ireland - and soon to go into force in the UK - has had no significant impact on sales. This conclusion is in contrast to claims that Irish shops suffered large losses due to the legislation. However, Dr. Quinn, an economist at the University of Nottingham, responds that the losses are part of a general trend of falling sales that exists independent of the tobacco display ban.
Professor McNeill adds that removing the displays will likely effect sales over the long term as less and less children become smokers. "Removing tobacco displays from sight," she says, "is important to help reduce the devastating impact tobacco has on so many lives. Our research shows that retailers do not need to fear this measure designed to protect children from tobacco marketing."