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N Z Med J. 2008 Jun 20;121(1276):87-98.

Evidence and arguments on tobacco retail displays: marketing an addictive drug to children?

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Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Box 7343, Wellington South, New Zealand.



To investigate arguments for and against a ban on tobacco displays in New Zealand shops.


Analysis of evidence from international experience and research studies, for the arguments used to oppose and support display bans; and 27 qualitative interviews with New Zealand ex-smokers, smokers, and retailers.


The main arguments used to oppose display bans identified were: (1) Fears of financial losses for retailers, particularly for small stores; (2) Claims that tobacco is a 'normal' product; (3) 'Lack of evidence' about effectiveness of display bans; and (4) Fears of increased theft and risks to staff. The counter-arguments include: (1) The lack of evidence of significant short term adverse economic effects on retailers (including small stores) where display bans have been implemented; (2) Tobacco is a highly abnormal and hazardous retail product; (3) Evidence that tobacco displays influence initiation of smoking among children, increase impulse purchases, and are crucial to tobacco companies' marketing strategies; (4) Lack of evidence that display bans increase thefts and risks to staff. The qualitative interviews supported the counter arguments. Smokers and ex-smokers interviewed indicated that tobacco displays tempt smokers trying to quit. There was widespread support for a display ban among interviewees (including some retailers) mainly because it might reduce smoking uptake among children.


Arguments for tobacco displays are contradictory, flawed, and unsupported by local and international research evidence, and by the overseas experience of tobacco-free display policies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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