Tob Control doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-050991
  • Research paper

Impact of a point-of-sale tobacco display ban on smokers’ spontaneous purchases: comparisons from postpurchase interviews before and after the ban in Western Australia

  1. Brennen W Mills1,2
  1. 1Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer Control, Curtin University, Joondalup, Western Australia
  2. 2Now at the Office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Advancement), Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Owen Carter, Office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Advancement), Edith Cowan University, Rm 21.544, Building 21. 270 Joondalup Drive, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup 6027, Western Australia; o.carter{at}
  • Received 30 January 2013
  • Revised 26 November 2013
  • Accepted 27 November 2013
  • Published Online First 23 December 2013


Objective To assess the impact of the Western Australian tobacco point-of-sale display ban on spontaneous purchase behaviours.

Methods Daily adult smokers (n=402) observed purchasing cigarettes were recruited via exit interviews either 2 months before or after the implementation of the display ban. Smokers were asked if they had intended to purchase cigarettes before entering the store to assess spontaneous purchase behaviours. Whether smokers had noticed the displays before their purchase and the extent to which this influenced their purchase decision was also assessed via non-prompting questions.

Results When compared with before the ban, fewer smokers after the ban noticed the displays (27.1% vs 1.1%, p<0.001), fewer reported making spontaneous purchases (28.2% vs 19.8%, p<0.05) and fewer claimed the displays influenced their purchase decisions (free recall 5.0% vs 1.1%, p<0.05; cued recall 22.1% vs 3.8%, p<0.001). Before the ban, spontaneous purchasers were more likely than planned purchasers to suggest the displays influenced their purchase decisions (free recall 9.7% vs 3.2%, p<0.05; cued recall 40.0% vs 17.9%, p<0.01). After the ban, spontaneous purchasers nominating the influence of displays fell substantially (free recall 9.7% vs 5.6%, p=NS; cued recall 40.0% vs 11.1%, p<0.01) as it did for planned purchasers (free recall 3.2% vs 0.0%, p<0.05; cued recall 17.9% vs 2.1%, p<0.01).

Conclusions We observed a 30% reduction in smokers making spontaneous tobacco purchases after implementation of the Western Australian tobacco display ban and between a fivefold and sixfold reduction in the proportion suggesting displays influenced their decision to purchase cigarettes. These data are consistent with previous research suggesting tobacco displays encourage spontaneous purchases and their removal corresponds to reductions in the same.

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