Out of Sight and Out of Mind? Evaluating the Impact of Point-of-Sale Tobacco Display Bans on Smoking-Related Beliefs and Behaviors in a Sample of Australian Adolescents and Young Adults
Introduction: The Australian states of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland implemented bans on tobacco pack displays at point-of-sale (PoS) in July 2010 and November 2011, respectively. This study evaluated the medium-term impact of the bans on youth.
Methods: Data were drawn from the Tobacco Promotion Impact Study, a repeated cross-sectional survey of youth (12–24 years) in NSW and Queensland conducted yearly 2010–2012 (n = 6,014). Regression analyses examined differences in youth’s recall of PoS tobacco displays, smoking-related beliefs, and smoking behaviors in relation to the timing of the PoS display bans.
Results: Recall of PoS tobacco displays was significantly less likely for youth interviewed after the bans versus before (OR = 0.45, 95% CI = 0.39, 0.52, p < .01). They were also less likely to report tobacco brand awareness (OR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.62, 0.92, p < .01), to over-estimate peer smoking (OR = 0.84, 95% CI = 0.74, 0.96, p < .01), or be current smokers (OR = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.55, 0.96, p < .05). Stratified analyses showed that these differences were primarily apparent in the group of youth most likely to be affected by tobacco PoS displays: those who visit tobacco retailers most frequently. After the bans, smokers were less likely to report that they think about smoking as a result of seeing PoS tobacco displays (OR = 0.60, 95% CI = 0.37, 0.97, p < .039).
Conclusions: Our findings suggest an immediate impact of display bans on youth’s exposure to tobacco pack displays, and likely impacts on smoking-related outcomes. These results suggest that removing tobacco displays from retail environments can positively contribute to the denormalization of smoking among youth.