Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Bans on tobacco display, advertising and vending machines in the Netherlands: impact on visibility of tobacco and compliance of retailers


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.

Statistics from

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.