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Estimating the effect of a potential policy to restrict tobacco retail availability in New Zealand
  1. Lindsay Robertson,
  2. Louise Marsh
  1. Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lindsay Robertson, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand; l.robertson{at}


Introduction Reducing tobacco retailer density is suggested to be a key component of tobacco endgames. Where tobacco retail reduction policies exist, ‘grandfathering’ is typically used, where existing retailers are exempt from restrictions aimed at reducing outlet density. We examined the possible impact on tobacco outlet density in New Zealand of a policy preventing new retail outlets from selling tobacco, but allowing existing retail outlets to continue selling tobacco until they ceased trading or relocated.

Methods We obtained data on numbers of tobacco outlets and the number of outlet closures recorded annually from 2006 to 2016. We calculated the mean and the lowest and highest 3-year rolling average closure rates for each type of tobacco outlet. We projected decreases in the number of tobacco outlets that would hypothetically be permitted to sell tobacco from 2020 onwards and estimated when the combined number of tobacco outlets would decline by 50% and 95%.

Results Based on mean annual closure rates, the total number of tobacco outlets would decrease by 50% by 2032 and a 95% reduction could be achieved by 2072. By 2025, the number of tobacco outlets would decrease by 27%; by 2050, this reduction would reach 84%.

Conclusion A tobacco retail reduction policy that prevented new retail outlets from selling tobacco and grandfathered existing retailers would be unlikely to achieve New Zealand’s target of a 95% reduction in tobacco outlet density within several decades of being enacted. Nonetheless, this policy could achieve a 50% reduction in tobacco retail availability in the first decade of implementation.

  • public policy
  • end game
  • advertising and promotion

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  • Contributors LR conceptualised the project, obtained the data, conducted the analysis and prepared the first draft of the manuscript. LM provided feedback on the concept and contributed to the manuscript. Both authors have seen and approved the final version.

  • Funding LR and LM were supported by a grant from the New Zealand Cancer Society.

  • Competing interests Although we do not consider it a competing interest, for the sake of full transparency we note that authors have undertaken work for health-sector agencies working in tobacco control.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was not deemed necessary for this analysis.

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