Ban on cigarette displays cuts teenage smoking rates: New Zealand study

2016-07-05 05:19:35 GMT2016-07-05 13:19:35(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

WELLINGTON, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Removing cigarette and tobacco displays from shops has helped cut smoking among New Zealand school students to record low levels, researchers said Tuesday.

A study led by University of Otago researchers suggested that 2012 legislation that banned all point-of-sale (POS) tobacco displays from shops selling cigarettes had helped reduce smoking among year-10 students (age 14 and 15) at schools across New Zealand.

Lead researcher Professor Richard Edwards said they found the removal of POS tobacco displays, accompanied by increased enforcement and penalties for selling tobacco to minors, was followed by significant reductions both in experimental and regular smoking.

For example, the proportion of children who had tried smoking, but were not regular smokers fell from about 24 percent in 2011 and 2012 to 17 percent in 2014, Edwards said in a statement.

The proportion of smoking students who were buying or trying to buy cigarettes from stores also declined.

This study provided strong evidence that the removal of prominent point-of-sale displays from almost all New Zealand convenience stores, petrol stations and supermarkets had contributed to reducing smoking among schoolchildren to its lowest level for two decades, said Edwards.

A New Zealand study from before the 2012 legislation came into effect, found that children who frequently visited shops that sold tobacco were at greater risk of trying smoking.

The findings contradicted the assertions of the tobacco industry that removing POS displays would not work.

"The tobacco industry has a history of saying that tobacco control measures won't work and predicting disastrous effects, even when the evidence suggests otherwise," Professor Janet Hoek said in the statement.

"They are currently making such arguments to oppose the introduction of plain packaging. This study shows once again that the industry is not to be trusted."

Implementing rigorous tobacco control measures would help protect children from becoming smokers and achieve the government's goal of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025, said Hoek.

The government is planning to legislate to require plain packaging of tobacco by the end of this year.

It is also ramping up tobacco taxes, which will raise the price of a packet of cigarettes by 50 percent over the next four years.