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Bans on tobacco display, advertising and vending machines in the Netherlands: impact on visibility of tobacco and compliance of retailers
  1. Mateusz Borowiecki1,2,
  2. Tessa R D van Deelen1,
  3. Bas van den Putte3,
  4. Anton E Kunst1,
  5. Mirte A G Kuipers1
  1. 1Public and Occupational Health, Amsterdam University Medical Centres, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Public Health, National Opinion Research Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. 3Social and Behavioural Sciences, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Mateusz Borowiecki, Public Health, National Opinion Research Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA; mtborowiecki{at}


Introduction Visibility of tobacco products at retail tobacco outlets is associated with smoking initiation. To address this, across 2020–2022 the Netherlands banned tobacco product displays, advertisements and vending machines in the retail environment. Tobacco/vape specialist shops were exempted. This study assessed the impact of these policies on tobacco visibility in the retail environment and retailer compliance.

Methods We conducted observational audits of all tobacco outlets in four Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Haarlem, Eindhoven and Zwolle) between 2019 and 2022 (before and after policy implementation), assessing visibility of tobacco products and advertisements, compliance and remaining sources of tobacco visibility (after implementation). We described results by location and outlet type.

Results The number of tobacco outlets with any tobacco advertising or product visibility declined from 530 to 267 (−50%). Among outlets not exempt from the ban, the number with visibility declined from 449 to 172 (−62%), with lower postban visibility in petrol stations (12%) and supermarkets (6%) than small shops (47%). Visibility among tobacco/vape shops increased by 17%. Tobacco product displays remained the main source of visibility. 93% of tobacco vending machines were removed. Maps showed that non-compliance is concentrated in Amsterdam’s city centre and more evenly distributed in other cities.

Conclusion The bans on tobacco display and tobacco advertising halved the visibility of tobacco in the retail environment, and the vending machine ban practically eradicated vending machines. To further reduce tobacco visibility, violations in small shops should be addressed and tobacco visibility should be regulated in currently exempt tobacco specialist shops.

  • Denormalization
  • Public policy
  • Surveillance and monitoring

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Audit data are available from the authors upon reasonable request. Please contact for more information.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Audit data are available from the authors upon reasonable request. Please contact for more information.

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  • Contributors MK, TvD and AK conceptualised and designed this paper. MK and TvD organised and coordinated observational audit data collection. MB and TvD prepared the data. MB executed the analysis and drafted the initial manuscript. MK, TvD, BvdP and AK reviewed and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work. MB was responsible for the overall content and is the guarantor of this paper.

  • Funding This study is part of the ‘Tobacco out of Sight’ project, which is funded by the Dutch Lung Foundation, Dutch Heart Foundation, Dutch Cancer Society, Dutch Thrombosis Foundation and Dutch Diabetes research Foundation, Call tobacco control policies 2018, under project number

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  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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