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Why Tasmanian retailers stop selling tobacco and implications for tobacco control
  1. Shannon M Melody1,2,
  2. Veronica A Martin-Gall1,
  3. Mark G Veitch1
  1. 1 Department of Health Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  2. 2 Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shannon M Melody, Department of Health Tasmania, Hobart TAS 7005, Australia; shannon.melody{at}


Introduction The retail availability of tobacco is at odds with the health harms associated with tobacco smoking and undermines tobacco control efforts. Evidence suggests ease of access to tobacco through retail outlets contributes to smoking prevalence.

Objective This study aimed to understand why retailers stop selling tobacco and explore possible implications for tobacco control.

Methods The Tobacco Licensing Database maintained by the Department of Health Tasmania was used to identify and recruit past retailers who no longer held licences. Semistructured interviews were conducted to explore business demographics and the reasons they stopped selling tobacco. Interview findings were analysed using a thematic framework.

Results Twenty former tobacco retailers participated, representing all business types except specialist tobacconists and large supermarkets. Retailers gave multiple reasons for ending tobacco sales, related to business considerations, security, tobacco regulations, ethics and health. Most often, the decision was business-related; health or ethical considerations were rarely a factor. Most retailers felt they played no role in mitigating tobacco-related harm.

Conclusions This study provides insights into factors that make tobacco sales unattractive or unfeasible for low-volume outlets and may inform supply-focused tobacco control policy. A campaign that emphasises the possible business benefits of ending tobacco sales in favour of other higher-margin products may support retailers to transition away from tobacco sales. The regulatory obligations of selling tobacco are disincentives and create a less favourable retail environment.

  • end game
  • harm reduction
  • public policy

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  • Contributors SMM: conceptualisation, data collection, data curation, analysis, project management, manuscript preparation, manuscript proofing. VAMG: conceptualisation, analysis, project management, supervision, manuscript preparation, manuscript proofing. MGV: conceptualisation, analysis, project management, supervision, manuscript preparation, manuscript proofing.

  • Funding Australian Department of Health Specialist Training Programme.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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