Irish shop survey highlights need for tobacco display ban

Wednesday 04 March 2009

Research published today by Ireland’s Office for Tobacco Control [1] shows that children still have a high chance of purchasing cigarettes from shops or via vending machines and are subjected to tobacco marketing in most retail outlets. The study found that two in five shop retailers and two in three licensed premises were willing to sell cigarettes to children aged under 18 years of age.

In licensed premises, 63% of minors were not prevented from buying cigarettes from a vending machine. This was almost identical to the 2007 finding of 64%.

The influence of tobacco marketing on children is particularly strong in Ireland where 80% of child smokers smoke just two brands – those that are the most heavily marketed through in-store displays.

The Irish survey found that 89% of stores surveyed had some form of tobacco advertising on display and 40% of stores had confectionery displayed beside the tobacco display. This mirrors a survey in England in 2008 which found that 53% of shops surveyed had tobacco displays within one metre of confectionery. [2]

Commenting on the Irish findings, ASH Chief Executive, Deborah Arnott, said:

“This study provides further strong evidence of the need for a ban on the display of tobacco products in shops as well as for tighter controls on the sale of tobacco products. Children both in the UK and Ireland are still being subjected to cigarette promotions which lure them into a life-long addiction to a deadly drug. The measures in the Health Bill will go a long way towards protecting children but we urge parliamentarians to strengthen the Bill by putting an end to tobacco vending machines and branding on tobacco packs.”

A complete ban on the display of tobacco products at point of sale will enter into force on 1 July 2009 in Ireland. The Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly have just announced similar measures. The Scottish proposals also include a requirement for tobacco retailers to be registered.

Notes and links
[1] National Tobacco Retail Audit – 2008 Monitoring Report. Office of Tobacco Control. For further details contact: Nigel Fox: 353 45 852 700

[2] MacGregor, J. Tobacco Advertising at the Point of Sale. MacGregor Consulting Ltd., August 2008.

Contact: Deborah Arnott 020 7739 5902 (w); 079 7693 5987 (m)
or Amanda Sandford 020 7739 5902