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How has the introduction of point-of-sale legislation affected the presence and visibility of tobacco retailing in Scotland? A longitudinal study


Background Reducing the local availability of tobacco is identified as the ‘next frontier’ in tobacco control. This paper examines the roles of tobacco retail outlet density and tobacco visibility in changing exposure to tobacco retailing before and after the introduction of point-of-sale (POS) legislation in Scotland.

Methods National tobacco retailer register data were analysed to examine time trends in tobacco retailer density (2012–2017). Results were stratified by local authority, neighbourhood deprivation and urbanity. Next, an annual retail audit using a POS tobacco visibility tool assessed changes in total product visibility in all retail outlets in four study communities between 2013 and 2017. A longitudinal survey (2013–2017) of 5527 adolescents aged 12–17 in the four study communities enabled the calculation of residential and journey-to-school measures of tobacco retailer exposure. Trends were stratified by deprivation, urbanity and socioeconomic status.

Results Retail provision of tobacco declined following the introduction of the POS legislation in 2013. However, there were strong geographic differences; nationally, one-fifth of local authorities have increased provision since 2015. In the four study communities, tobacco retail provision was generally stable over the study period. Although product visibility of tobacco products reduced for adolescents there was growing socioeconomic disparity in the density of tobacco retailers and the visibility of tobacco storage.

Conclusions The POS ban reduced exposure to tobacco products in communities across Scotland. However, tobacco products remain widely available, and there is growing socioeconomic disparity in the availability and visibility of tobacco.

  • disparities
  • environment
  • public policy
  • socioeconomic status

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