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Towards tobacco-free retailers: feasibility of an intervention encouraging retailers to stop selling tobacco in Tasmania
  1. Abby L Smith1,2,
  2. Seema Mihrshahi3,
  3. Veronica A Martin-Gall4,5,
  4. Marina Brkic4,
  5. Mark G Veitch4,
  6. Becky Freeman1
  1. 1 School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Quit Tasmania, Cancer Council Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  3. 3 Department of Health Systems and Populations, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4 Department of Health Tasmania, Public Health Services, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  5. 5 Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Abby L Smith, School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; abby.smith{at}


Background Despite calls for greater emphasis on tobacco supply reduction strategies, limited evidence of interventions (regulatory and non-regulatory) to reduce tobacco retailer numbers exists. This study investigated the feasibility of a real-world, non-regulatory intervention to encourage low volume tobacco retailers to stop selling, in a jurisdiction with a tobacco retailer licensing system.

Intervention Between December 2018 and 2019, low volume tobacco retailers (n=164) were exposed to multiple intervention elements (eg, postcard and letter mail-out, onsite visit) focused on the business benefits of stopping selling, in the lead up to their tobacco licence expiry date. The intervention was delivered in Tasmania, Australia in a region characterised by socioeconomic disadvantage, high smoking rates and density of tobacco retailers.

Methods For this mixed-methods study we collected data through implementation records on 164 retailers and postintervention interviews with 21 retailers to explore intervention implementation, awareness, acceptability, usefulness and actions taken.

Results Retailers were able to recall the intervention, specifically messages focused on the business-related reasons to stop selling tobacco. Of the 107 retailers that the project officer spoke with onsite or via telephone, the majority (72%) accepted phase I components. The intervention introduced some retailers to the concept of ending tobacco sales, which made them stop and consider this option. Of the 164 retailers exposed to the intervention, 18 (11%) retailers ended tobacco sales.

Conclusion Our study suggests that a non-regulatory intervention targeting low volume retailers to end tobacco sales may help to reduce the retail availability of tobacco.

  • environment
  • public policy
  • advocacy

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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  • X @DrBFreeman

  • Contributors AS, BF, SM, VM, MB and MV designed the study. AS acted as guarantor and conducted interviews, led the analysis and interpretation of data and wrote the first draft. BF and SM contributed to the interpretation of results. All authors reviewed and contributed to the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Department of Health Tasmania and Cancer Council Tasmania, with both contributing to the study design.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.