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New study shows that in-store cigarette displays act as cues to smoke

Says effective marketing restrictions on tobacco should include cigarette displays
November 26, 2007

A new study shows that substantial numbers of former smokers and smokers trying to quit report that in-store displays of cigarettes increase their urge to purchase cigarettes and even prompt them to do so on impulse in places where in-store tobacco advertising is against the law.

The report – published this week in the journal Addiction – provides powerful new evidence that in store cigarette displays significantly impact the purchasing behavior of smokers and undermine efforts to quit.

“Tobacco companies are sophisticated in their use of cigarette displays to influence smokers, smokers trying to quit and potential smokers. The study demonstrates that younger smokers are more likely to notice cigarette displays and more likely to purchase cigarettes on impulse,” said Matthew Myers, President of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “

The study, titled “The effect of retail cigarette pack displays on impulse purchase” , also shows in addition to traditional advertising and marketing strategies, the creative use of colorful packages, self-contained cigarette displays, and the positioning of cigarette packs prominently near cash registers is also effective at getting people to buy cigarettes.”

Conducted by researchers from The Cancer Council of Victoria, Australia and Stanford University – the study shows about 75 percent of smokers surveyed notice cigarette pack displays in shops such as convenience stores, service stations, and supermarkets.

Just over 25 percent of smokers surveyed reported sometimes purchasing cigarettes as a result of seeing package displays even though they were actually shopping for something else. Of the smokers who had tried to quit in the past twelve months and experienced an urge to buy cigarettes after seeing a cigarette display, 61 percent purchased cigarettes.

“This study suggests that “power walls” or visible displays of cigarette packages need to be eliminated because of their ability to influence the purchasing behavior of shoppers,” said Myers. “It provides compelling evidence of the need to include cigarette displays in the recommendations to be debated by governments as they meet this week in Helsinki to propose standards for compliance with the advertising and marketing provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”

By ratifying the WHO Framework Convention Alliance Tobacco Control Treaty – the only international treaty on public health - the 151 member nations have pledged to enact laws restricting the advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco products to the extent permitted by each nation’s constitution.