Effect of a brief retailer intervention to reduce the sale of single cigarettes

Am J Health Promot. 1995 Jan-Feb;9(3):172-4. doi: 10.4278/0890-1171-9.3.172.


A surprising finding from the present study was the occasional retailer practice of giving singles away upon confederates' requests to purchase singles. This practice was not expected, and additional data related to its occurrence (i.e., under what circumstances it occurred) were not collected. Although the prevalence of giving away singles was not high (approximately 6% of stores at pretest and 3% at posttest), the practice raises concern in that it may greatly facilitate experimental smoking and undermine cessation attempts. Availability (i.e., sales and giving) of single cigarettes dropped significantly during the four-month period of this study (34% to 10%), suggesting that a brief educational intervention followed by a "booster" mailing of materials effectively reduced single cigarette availability. The overall reduction in availability of singles was also seen for the two store types individually. It is noteworthy, however, that at both assessments, liquor stores were more likely than independent markets to have singles available. The finding that location of singles changed from on top of and behind the counter to exclusively behind the counter indicated that retailers may have become aware that providing singles is illegal, and made attempts to be less obvious about their availability. Although the ultimate goal was to completely eliminate the availability of single cigarettes, the change in location may be positive in that impulse buying could be diminished when singles are hidden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Commerce / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Smoking / economics
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Smoking Prevention*