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Tobacco companies’ use of retailer incentives after a ban on point-of-sale tobacco displays in Scotland
  1. Martine Stead1,
  2. Douglas Eadie1,
  3. Richard I Purves1,
  4. Crawford Moodie1,
  5. Sally Haw2
  1. 1 Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  2. 2 Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  1. Correspondence to Martine Stead, Institute for Social Marketing, Faculty of Health Sciences & Sport, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK; martine.stead{at}


Introduction Incentives have been used by tobacco companies for many years to encourage retailers to sell and promote their products. However, few studies have examined the use of retailer incentives in countries with a ban on the open display of tobacco products in stores.

Methods As part of the DISPLAY(Determining the Impact of Smoking Point of Sale Legislation Among Youth) study, annual qualitative interviews were conducted with 24 small retailers in four Scottish communities. This article focuses on data collected in June to July 2015 and June to July 2016 after a ban on the open display of tobacco was fully implemented in Scotland.

Results Retailers described being offered and benefiting from a range of financial and other incentives, typically offered via tobacco company representatives (‘reps’). Most of the retailers received tobacco manufacturer support for converting their storage unit to be compliant with the new regulations, and several participated in manufacturer ‘loyalty’ or ‘reward’ schemes. Incentives were additionally offered for maintaining stock levels and availability, positioning brands in specified spaces in the public-facing storage units (even though products were covered up), increasing sales, trialling new products and participating in specific promotions, such as verbally recommending specific brands to customers.

Conclusions Even in a market where the open display of tobacco is prohibited, tobacco companies continue to incentivise retailers to sell and promote their brands and have developed new promotional strategies. For countries that have implemented tobacco display bans, or are considering doing so, one option to combat these practices would be to ban promotional communications between manufacturers and retailers.

  • advertising and promotion
  • tobacco industry
  • public policy

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  • Contributors MS drafted the manuscript. MS, DE and RP collected, coded and analysed the data. CM and SH advised on the structure of the paper and contributed to the Introduction and Discussion. SH conceived of and is principal investigator of the overall study. All authors commented on drafts of the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding The study was funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) PHR project 10/3000/07. The study sponsor had no influence on study design and the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, the writing of the article and the decision to submit it for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not conducted with patients.

  • Ethics approval School of Management Research Ethics Committee, University of Stirling.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Retailers gave consent for their data to be shared only with the research team and in study reports and publications. Because some of the unpublished data are commercially sensitive, they are not available. The authors are happy to be contacted by researchers wishing to know more about the study.