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May 17, 2018 (10:17 PM) Reply | Quote 

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Tobacco walls tempt kids and quitters

Tobacco wall displays in convenience stores and other retailers should be banned because New Zealand and international evidence shows they are an unhealthy influence on children and people trying to quit smoking, according to latest research from the University of Otago, Wellington.

"This is a serious issue affecting children who are considering starting to smoke, or smokers struggling to quit," says lead research Dr George Thomson.

"Tobacco companies use these wall displays and pay retailers to keep them up because they work; in essence, they normalise smoking."

The tobacco displays are commonly funded by tobacco companies. Calls for the removal of the displays have already met with opposition, particularly from 24 hour convenience store owners who claim a ban would have a serious effect on business.

However the study, 'Evidence and arguments on tobacco retail displays: marketing an addictive drug to children', just published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, indicates that in countries which have imposed a ban on tobacco 'power walls', there is little financial effect on retailers.

Professor Janet Hoek and Dr Heather Gifford, two of the study co-researchers, say interviews with former smokers and lapsed quitters show that tobacco displays are highly visible and tempt people struggling to give up a dangerous and unhealthy habit that costs 4500 lives annually in New Zealand.

"Despite the ban on tobacco advertising, wall displays are de facto advertising in over 5000 retail outlets across the country," researchers say.

The study analysed evidence from a wide range of international research papers on the effects tobacco displays. Documents and interviews were used to explore the effects of display bans in such countries as Canada. The researchers also conducted 27 interviews with ex-smokers, smokers and retailers in New Zealand. The study found arguments against a ban were flawed or contradictory:

  • A lack of evidence of significant short term adverse economic effects on retailers in countries like Canada, where tobacco displays have been banned.
  • That tobacco is not a normal product as claimed by some NZ retailers. It is highly hazardous and should be closely regulated.
  • Clear international evidence that displays influence children, increase impulse purchasing, and are crucial to tobacco marketing.
  • A lack of evidence that removal of displays would increase thefts and risk to staff in retail outlets, and strong arguments that the opposite would occur.
  • Smokers and ex-smokers interviewed supported a display ban, particularly because of the impact on children.

The New Zealand Government is currently analysing submissions on proposals to further restrict or ban tobacco displays in retail settings.

This research helps to clarify the facts about this contentious issue by analysing international findings, says Associate Professor Richard Edwards. He believes overseas experience would have a similar application in New Zealand.

New Zealand also has a legal obligation to undertake a comprehensive ban of all tobacco promotion within five years of its 2004 ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This means displays should go by January 2009.

This research was partly funded by the Cancer Society and ASH.


Gorilla quitter, here come King Kong.

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