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Child awareness of and access to cigarettes: impacts of the point-of-sale display ban in England

Abstract

Introduction England introduced a tobacco display ban for shops with >280 m2 floor area (‘partial ban’) in 2012, then a total ban in 2015. This study assessed whether these were linked to child awareness of and access to cigarettes.

Methods Data come from the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use survey, an annual survey of children aged 11–15 years for 2010–2014 and 2016. Multivariate logistic regression models assessed changes in having seen cigarettes on display, usual sources and ease of access to cigarettes in shops

Results During the partial display ban in 2012, 89.9% of children reported seeing cigarettes on display in the last year, which was reduced to 86.0% in 2016 after the total ban (adjusted OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.66). Reductions were similar in small shops (84.1% to 79.3%)%) and supermarkets (62.6% to 57.3%)%). Although the ban was associated with a reduction in the proportion of regular child smokers reporting that they bought cigarettes in shops (57.0% in 2010 to 39.8% in 2016), we did not find evidence of changes in perceived difficulty or being refused sale among those who still did.

Discussion Tobacco point-of-sale display bans in England reduced the exposure of children to cigarettes in shops and coincided with a decrease in buying cigarettes in shops. However, children do not report increased difficulty in obtaining cigarettes from shops, highlighting the need for additional measures to tackle tobacco advertising, stronger enforcement of existing laws and measures such as licencing for tobacco retailers.

  • advertising and promotion
  • prevention
  • public policy

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