Tobacco products have been hidden from point-of-sale displays across the UK for more than four years. Displays of tobacco products at shop counters were first banned in larger stores in England in April 2012, with similar laws following in Wales and Northern Ireland later that year, and in Scotland in April 2013. A full ban including smaller shops went into effect across the UK in April 2015.
University of Stirling researchers have found that the ban “helps safeguard young people”. The study titled “Impact of a ban on the open display of tobacco products in retail outlets on never smoking youth in the UK: findings from a repeat cross-sectional survey before, during and after implementation,” examined the impact of the policy on 11-16-year-olds who had never smoked.
“Our findings help to justify this policy approach in the UK and elsewhere,” said lead author Dr Allison Ford. Dr Ford’s team interviewed a total of 3,791 young people, including 2,953 who had never smoked, before, during and after the law was introduced. “Prior to the display ban, we found that young ‘never smokers‘ who noticed cigarettes displayed at point-of-sale, and those who were aware of more cigarette brands, were more likely to indicate being susceptible to smoking,” said the researcher.
“Both partial and full implementation of the display ban were followed by statistically significant reductions in youth smoking susceptibility and noticing cigarettes at point-of-sale.”
Among their findings, they discovered that:
- “The ‘smoking susceptibility’ of children who had never smoked decreased from 28% pre-ban to 18% post-ban
- A total of 81% of those interviewed noticed cigarettes at point-of-sale before the law came into force, compared to 28% afterwards
- The average number of cigarette brands recalled by the children declined from 0.97 to 0.69
- After the ban was fully implemented, 90% of those who have never smoked supported the display ban
- It made cigarettes seem unappealing, according to 77% of those interviewed
- And 87% said it made smoking seem unacceptable”
About teen vaping
With regards to e-cigarettes, a recent report by Public Health England (PHE) has also found that in contrast to reports from the US, vaping rates amongst youth in Britain remain low, even though locally the devices are fully endorsed as harm reduction and smoking cessation tools.
An independent report on e-cigarette use led by researchers at King’s College London and commissioned by the PHE, has indicated that regular vaping remains low among young people, and has plateaued among adults. The report is the first in a new set of 3, commissioned by the PHE under the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan for England, and it looks at patterns of use rather than health impacts of the devices, which will be the subject of a future report.
The compiled data indicate that while experimentation with e-cigarettes has increased amongst young people, regular use remains low, with only 1.7% of under-18s using e-cigarettes weekly or more. The researchers have found that of these 1.7% the vast majority also smoke, whilst amongst young people who never smoked, only 0.2% vape regularly. With regards to adults, e-cigarette use among adults has plateaued over recent years, and remains largely confined to smokers and ex-smokers, who are trying to quit smoking.
Read Further: BBC