Research conducted at the University has informed tobacco policy and legislation in the UK and worldwide. The Institute found point-of-sale marketing of tobacco, including tobacco display racks, directly influences consumer behaviour.
A display ban on tobacco was implemented successfully in large shops and supermarkets between 2012 and 2013, with smaller shops required to comply by 2015.
Now new research published in 2019, shows that the ban on point-of-sale tobacco displays has had a significant reduction in youth smoking susceptibility. The study, published in the British Medical Journal’s Tobacco Control, examined the impact of the policy on 11-16-year-olds who had never smoked.
Smoking susceptibility among never smokers decreased from 28 percent pre-ban to 23 percent mid-ban, and 18 percent post-ban. Store customers who noticed cigarettes at point-of-sale decreased from 81 percent pre-ban, to 28 percent post-ban. In addition, the research shows that cigarette brand awareness was also reduced, with the average number of cigarette brands recalled declining from 0.97 pre-ban to 0.69 post-ban. The study also found that 90% of those surveyed supported the display ban.
The work of the Institute played a key role in the UK Government’s decision to introduce standardised (or plain) packaging of cigarettes in 2017. A recent study, funded by Cancer Research UK and led by the Institute’s Dr Crawford Moodie, shows the impact of standardised packaging. It found that smokers are more likely to notice and attend to the health warnings on standardised packs than on fully-branded packs, and more likely to think about the risks of smoking and about quitting because of standardised packs. This important insight feeds into a global effort to measure the effectiveness of changes to the way tobacco is marketed.
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