Public health charity Action on Smoking and Health in Wales has welcomed the new law that comes into force today banning the display of tobacco in supermarkets and other large shops in Wales.
From Monday December 3rd large retailers will no longer be allowed to have cigarettes and other tobacco products on display. Tobacco price lists will also have no branding or logos.
The law will extend to smaller shops, including specialist tobacconists, in April 2015.
Displays of cigarettes at the point of sale has been one of the ways in which tobacco companies have been able to advertise their products.
Chief Executive Elen de Lacy said:
“Today represents a significant step forward in making tobacco less accessible, and less visible, for children and young people. De-normalising tobacco in everyday settings is vital if we are to have any chance of reducing the take-up of smoking among our young people.
“Point of sale displays have been a highly influential advertising space that has a major effect on young people’s awareness of tobacco products and can also result in impulse purchasing among young people and ex-smokers.
“Research after point of sale displays had been banned in Ireland showed that compliance was high among retailers, young people became less confident that they would be able to buy cigarettes from shops, and were less able to recall brands, with a drop from 80% to 22% after it was implemented.”
In England, point of sale displays were banned in large shops in April 2012 and will also be banned from smaller shops from April 2015. Scotland and Northern Ireland are also pursuing a point of sale ban.
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. Since the ban on tobacco advertising in 2003, and the forthcoming ban on tobacco vending machines (including machines displaying any tobacco advertising), the point of sale is one of the few ways in which tobacco companies can advertise and tobacco companies have used their current right to increase the size and scale of tobacco displays within shops.
A systematic review found that point of sale displays increased susceptibility to smoking and uptake of smoking among young people(1), and they can also facilitate a relapse among ex-smokers and those attempting to quit(2).
Large-scale longitudinal research between 1999 and 2006(3), 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.
Around 14,000 young people aged 11-15 take up smoking each year in Wales (Welsh Government 2011)
(1) Paynter, J. And Edwards, R. (2009) ‘The impact of tobacco promotion at the point of sale: A systematic review.’ Ni Tob Res: 11: 25-35.
(2) Wakefield, M. (2007) ‘The effect of retail cigarette pack displays on impulse purchase.’ Addiction: November 2007.
(3) Hastings, G. Et al. (2008). Point of Sale Display of Tobacco Products. Centre for Tobacco Control Research: University of Stirling and the Open University.