'Hiding' cigarettes in stores might keep kids from smoking: study

December 3, 2012 by Alan Mozes, Healthday Reporter
'Hiding' cigarettes in stores might keep kids from smoking: study
U.S. law gives states, local governments the means to restrict advertising strategy and placement.

(HealthDay)—U.S. teens are much less likely to buy cigarettes if they are hidden from view, new research suggests.

The study tracked the purchases of a group of adolescents as they "shopped" in several different virtual convenience stores that contained different cigarette sale scenarios. Some stores featured open displays of tobacco products for sale, while others strategically hid their cigarettes behind a cabinet. Similarly, cigarette advertising was either prominent, hidden or banned.

"Studies show that because tobacco displays and ads are so common in stores, they may give kids the false perception that is a common behavior," explained study author Annice Kim, a research public health analyst with the research program at RTI International in Durham, N.C. " also influence adults to purchase cigarettes when they had not planned to, which may make it harder for current smokers to quit and may even influence recent quitters to relapse."

Passage of the U.S. in 2009 gave states and the legal means to tackle the issue by allowing them to restrict various aspects of cigarette advertising strategy and placement.

"[So] banning the visible display of tobacco products is one option that states are considering," along the lines of current bans already in place in both Canada and Australia, Kim said.

In the new study's virtual, interactive , she said, "we found that kids who shopped in the enclosed [hidden] display version of the store were less likely to try purchasing cigarettes than kids in the open-display version of the store."

However, she said, the researchers "found no support that banning tobacco ads throughout the store would discourage kids from trying to purchase cigarettes."

The findings appear online Dec. 3 issue and in the January print issue of Pediatrics.

The authors noted that according to the latest 2010 U.S Federal Trade Commission statistics, the tobacco industry spends roughly $8 billion on and promotions. And the lion's share, Kim said, is devoted to the promotion of cigarettes in a retail store setting.

The new study focused on more than 1,200 between the ages of 13 and 17, some of whom were and some of whom were not.

All were randomly presented with one of six different virtual convenience store situations, containing various scenario combinations in which cigarette products were either openly present or present but hidden, while tobacco ads were either present, hidden or banned altogether. The teens were given free rein as to what they "clicked" and purchased, with the only instruction being to pick up one drink, one snack and two additional items at check-out.

The result: The banning of all in-store cigarette ads appeared to have a minimal impact on cigarette shopping habits. However, when shopping in stores where tobacco products themselves were hidden, only 32 percent of teens appeared to be aware of the availability of cigarettes to begin with, compared with about 85 of those who shopped in stores where cigarettes were openly displayed.

In turn, only 9 percent of teens shopping in the hidden display scenario bought cigarettes, compared with more than 24 percent of those who virtually strolled through a store that openly featured cigarettes.

"These results suggest that policies that require retailers to store out of view—behind enclosed cabinets—could have a positive public health impact by discouraging kids from purchasing cigarettes," Kim said.

For his part, Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, embraced the study findings, and suggested that they support the need for new cigarette display restriction laws, given that for-profit stores are otherwise highly unlikely to voluntarily limit the display of products.

"The study's finding that the removal of tobacco product displays reduced youth tobacco purchases shows just how effective the displays are in getting kids to smoke," McGoldrick said. "States and the federal government should increase tobacco taxes and invest in prevention programs to counter the impact of these industry efforts."

Explore further: Tobacco display ban comes into force in England

More information: For more on children and tobacco, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Related Stories

Tobacco display ban comes into force in England

April 6, 2012
A ban on tobacco displays in large shops and supermarkets came into force in England on Friday, meaning such stores must hide cigarettes from public view.

Norway court upholds ban on tobacco store displays

September 14, 2012
(AP)—A Norwegian court has upheld a ban on the display of tobacco products in stores, handing a defeat Friday to the Philip Morris company.

Colombia bans sales of loose cigarettes, tobacco adverts

July 21, 2011
A ban on sales of loose cigarettes and tobacco advertising went into effect Thursday in Colombia, the health ministry said.

Smokers drop pricey cigarettes for cheaper alternatives: CDC

August 2, 2012
(HealthDay) -- With cigarette costs rising, more smokers are turning to cigars or "rolling their own" to cut costs, suggests a new U.S. government report that shows a substantial increase in the use of non-cigarette tobacco ...

Recommended for you

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

Study provides further support for genetic factors underlying addictions

June 13, 2017
Impairment of a particular gene raises increases susceptibility to opioid addiction liability as well as vulnerability to binge eating according to a new study.

From pill to needle: Prescription opioid epidemic may be increasing drug injection

May 8, 2017
The prescription opioid epidemic is shrinking the time it used to take drug users to progress to drug injection, a new Keck School of Medicine of USC-led study suggests.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.