Official evaluation confirms tobacco display bans can deter youth smoking without harming retailers

Friday 19 November 2010

In recent months evidence has been mounting in favour of a total tobacco display ban at the point of sale. Two studies published today which evaluated the impact of Ireland’s tobacco display ban show that the law has already had a positive impact on youth attitudes to smoking while legitimate sales to adult smokers has not changed significantly. [1]

The first study found an improvement in attitudes associated with youth smoking uptake including: a reduction in the tendency to over-estimate the number of peers who smoke, a reduction in the recall of tobacco displays, and a reduction in the belief that they would be able to buy cigarettes successfully.

The second study looked at the economic impact and found no evidence that the display ban had affected tobacco sales over and above seasonal variation.

These findings confirm official data from Revenue Ireland, which show that a ten year decline in volumes of duty paid cigarettes continued in 2009 although the decline was slower than in 2008. Due to an increase in tobacco tax, revenue was up 4% (€50 million) despite the long term downward trend in sales. [2 – 4]

Official data from Canada gives further proof that there is no link between shop displays and tobacco smuggling. Canada now has a coast to coast ban on tobacco displays while improved enforcement has driven down smuggling, so increasing the legitimate market by 20%, a trend confirmed by tobacco manufacturing giant Phillip Morris International. [5]

Martin Dockrell, ASH’s Director of Policy and Research, commented:

“These studies show conclusively that putting tobacco displays out of sight is good for young people without harming small businesses. These two studies are surely the final nails in the coffin of a tobacco industry campaign to block the Health Act.

“The tobacco companies have tried to bully ministers and scare retailers, claiming the law would increase smuggling. But official data from Canada and Ireland show that assertion to be false. In Ireland official statistics show the reduction in duty paid cigarettes was perfectly in line with the average for the last ten years. Cigarette sales are down in Ireland because the smoking rate there has fallen from 27.5% to 23.5% in just two years.

“There is now no reason at all for the government to delay implementation of the display ban. They can put tobacco out of the reach of our children and our children out of the reach of tobacco companies.”


Notes and links:
[1] McNeill A et al. Evaluation of the removal of point of sale tobacco promotional displays in Ireland. Tobacco Control (2010). doi:10.1136/tc.2010.038141
Quinn C. et al Economic evaluation of the removal of tobacco promotional displays in Ireland.
Tobacco Control (2010). doi:10.1136/tc.2010.039602
These studies were conducted by researchers at Nottingham University and funded by Cancer Research UK, the Office of Tobacco Control in Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society.

[2] Irish smoking rates have fallen for the last two years

[3)] In Ireland the average number of duty paid cigarettes cleared monthly in 2008 was 411 million. For the first six months of 2009 this fell to 375 million before recovering modestly to 392 million in the 6 months after the Point of Sale display ban was introduced in July. Source: Revenue Ireland

[4] Tobacco duty revenue was up 4% in the year Ireland introduced their display ban. 2008 €1,170,990,411 2009: €1,216,476,649 Source: Revenue Ireland

[5] According to Philip Morris International, legitimate sales increased 20% in Canada “mainly reflecting stronger government enforcement measures to reduce contraband sales”