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Research letter
No lasting effects of plain packaging on cigarette pack retrieval time in small Australian retail outlets
  1. Megan Bayly,
  2. Michelle Scollo,
  3. Melanie Wakefield
  1. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Melanie Wakefield, Behavioural Science Division, Cancer Council Victoria, 615 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia; melanie.wakefield{at}

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One of the many claims made by the tobacco industry against Australia's plain packaging legislation was that plain standardised packaging would make it harder for retailers to locate and retrieve packs for customers.1 ,2 The industry argued this would lead to substantially longer transaction times, customer frustration, security issues and, ultimately, loss of trade from smaller convenience to larger discount outlets.3

A real-world study of a panel of small retail outlets by our group aimed to investigate this claim. We found only a small, temporary increase in cigarette pack retrieval times immediately following plain packaging implementation on 1 December 2012.4 By the second week of December 2012, pack retrieval times had returned to levels that were no different to baseline months, as was the case for February 2013.

The pack retrieval protocol was repeated a …

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  • Contributors MW and MS co-designed the study and MB coordinated fieldwork and undertook data analysis. All authors contributed to manuscript writing and revisions and approved the final version of the paper.

  • Funding This study was supported by Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Australia, Cancer Council South Australia, Cancer Council Victoria, Cancer Research UK, Fresh, Smoke-free Southwest, Tobacco-Free Futures and Action on Smoking and Health (UK).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Research Review Committee, Cancer Council Victoria.

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