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Tobacco price boards as a promotional strategy—a longitudinal observational study in Australian retailers
  1. Megan Bayly1,
  2. Michelle Scollo1,
  3. Sarah White2,
  4. Kylie Lindorff2,
  5. Melanie Wakefield1
  1. 1 Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2 Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Michelle Scollo, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, 615 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne Vic 3004, Australia; Michelle.Scollo{at}


Background Price boards in tobacco retailers are one of the few forms of tobacco promotion remaining in Australia. This study aimed to examine how these boards were used to promote products over a period of rapidly rising taxes.

Methods Observations were made in a panel of 350 stores in Melbourne, Australia, in November of 2013 (just before) and in 2014 and 2015 (after 12.5% increases in tobacco duty). Fieldworkers unobtrusively noted the presence and characteristics of price boards, and the brand name, size and price of the product at the top of each board.

Results Price boards were common in all store types apart from newsagent/lottery agents. The characteristics of the top-listed product changed notably over time: premium brands accounted for 66% of top-listed products in 2013, significantly declining to 43% in 2015, while packs of 20 cigarettes increased in prominence from 32% to 45%. The prevalence of packs of 20 cigarettes in budget market segments tripled from 2013 (13%) and 2014 (11%) to 32% in 2015, with no change in the proportion of packs that were under $A20 from 2014 (37%) to 2015 (36%). The rate of increase in the average price of the top-listed pack correspondingly flattened from 2014 to 2015 compared with 2013–2014.

Conclusions Price boards promote tobacco products in ways that undermine the effectiveness of tax policy as a means of discouraging consumption. Communication to consumers about prices should be restricted to information sheets provided to adult smokers on request at the point of sale.

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Price
  • Taxation
  • Public Policy
  • Surveillance and Monitoring

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  • Contributors MS, MW and MB contributed to study design, and MB coordinated fieldwork and undertook data analysis. All authors contributed to manuscript writing and revisions and approved the final version of the paper.

  • Funding This study was supported by Quit Victoria, with funding from VicHealth, the State Government of Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Research Review Committee, Cancer Council Victoria.

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

  • Data sharing statement No further data available for sharing at this stage.