Tobacco point of sale displays


Why ban the display of tobacco?

Cigarettes are now hidden from view in all shops, such as supermarkets, in Wales after new regulations came into force on the 3rd December 2012 (and 6th April 2015 for small shops such as corner shops) banning all tobacco products from display at the point of sale.

Reasons for a ban on point of sale displays

Since the ban on tobacco advertising in 2003, point of sale has been one of the few ways in which tobacco companies have been able to advertise their products and, over the years, they have used this right to increase the size and scale of tobacco displays within shops.

The Health Act 2009 gave the devolved governments the power to introduce regulations to prohibit marketing and advertising of tobacco products at the point of sale.

Surveys conducted since 2009 have consistently shown strong public support for a ban on the display of tobacco products at the point of sale. A YouGov survey conducted for ASH Wales in 2016 showed that 72% of Welsh adults support putting tobacco products out of sight in shops1.

Tobacco displays attract potential new young smokers

14,500 young people aged 11-14 take up smoking every day in Wales and about two-thirds take up smoking before the age of 182. We believe that banning tobacco at the point of sale is another significant step forward in making tobacco less accessible for young people and less visible for children which helps to tackle the image of smoking as a harmless, everyday activity.

Large-scale longitudinal research between 1999 and 20063, on behalf of Cancer Research UK, found that, by 2006 the point of sale was the way in which young people were made most aware of tobacco brands, with 46% of young people aware of tobacco marketing at the point of sale.

A systematic review found that point of sale displays increased susceptibility to smoking and uptake of smoking among young people4, and they can also facilitate a relapse among ex-smokers and those attempting to quit5.

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Tobacco displays as a form of advertising

The main reason for prohibiting the display of tobacco products at the point of sale is to protect children and young people from the promotion of tobacco. Children and young people are particularly influenced by tobacco imagery6 & 7 and the effectiveness of tobacco advertising in recruiting children to smoking is the primary reason behind legislation banning point of sale promotion.

Research from elsewhere

Research after point of sale displays had been banned in Ireland showed that compliance was high among retailers. Young people also became less confident that they would be able to purchase cigarettes from shops and were less able to recall brands, with a drop from 80% to 22% after it was implemented.


1YouGov 2016, Total sample size was 1048 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd to 23rd March 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Wales adults (aged 18+).

2Robinson S & Bugler C. Smoking and drinking among adults, 2008. General Lifestyle Survey 2008. ONS,2010.

3Hastings, G. Et al. (2008). Point of Sale Display of Tobacco Products. Centre for Tobacco Control Research: University of Stirling and the Open University.

4Paynter, J. And Edwards, R. (2009) ‘The impact of tobacco promotion at the point of sale: A systematic review.’ Ni Tob Res: 11: 25-35.

5Wakefield, M. (2007) ‘The effect of retail cigarette pack displays on impulse purchase.’ Addiction: November 2007.

6Pierce JP, Gilpin E, Burns DM, et al. Does tobacco advertising target young people to start smoking? Evidence from California. JAMA.1991; 266:3154–3158

7Lovato, C et al. Cochrane Review: Impact of tobacco advertising and promotion on increasing adolescent smoking behaviours. The Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2004