Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Who sells tobacco, who stops? A comparison across different tobacco retailing schemes
  1. Suzan Burton1,
  2. Fiona Phillips2,
  3. Christina Watts3,4,
  4. Kelly Kennington2,
  5. Michelle Scollo5,
  6. Kylie Lindorff6,
  7. Sam Egger7
  1. 1School of Business, Western Sydney University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Cancer Prevention and Research Division, Cancer Council Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  3. 3Cancer Prevention and Advocacy Division, Cancer Council New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  6. 6Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  7. 7Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Suzan Burton, Western Sydney University School of Business, Sydney, NSW 2747, Australia; S.Burton{at}


Background Licensing of tobacco retailers has been proposed as a mechanism to encourage retailers to stop selling tobacco. However, previous studies of tobacco licensing and/or of retailers who have stopped selling have been restricted to one legislative environment. This study examines patterns of tobacco retailing across three legislative environments with three different licensing schemes (an annual fee-based licence, a zero-cost, one-off notification scheme and no notification/licensing scheme).

Method A telephone survey was conducted of 2928 potential tobacco retailers who could personally choose whether or not to sell tobacco (rather than the decision being made at a head office).

Results Unexpectedly, the annual licence fee to sell tobacco was not significantly associated with a lower rate of selling tobacco or a higher rate of stopping. After allowing for other factors, probability of selling, stopping selling and reported importance of tobacco sales varied across outlet types (p<0.001 for all three outcomes), and according to the remoteness of the retailer (p<0.001, p trend=0.041 and p=0.025 respectively).

Conclusion A fee of $A286 was not associated with a lower rate of selling, or a higher rate of stopping. The effect of licensing on retailer numbers will presumably be greater for higher licence fees, but will also depend on the perceived importance of tobacco sales to the retailer. In turn, importance of tobacco sales appears to depend on market factors, including proximity to major urban centres and low-cost competitors. A higher licence fee is likely to have a larger effect on discouraging retailers from selling.

  • public policy
  • end game
  • harm reduction

Statistics from


  • Contributors All authors contributed to the idea and to interpretation of the results. SB and SE led the analysis and wrote the first draft. All authors reviewed and approved the final version.

  • Funding This study was funded by Cancer Council Western Australia.

  • Competing interests No, there are no competing interests.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from the Ethics Committee of Western Sydney University.

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

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. Deidentified data are available on reasonable request by contacting the first author.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.