Aim: To evaluate the short-term impacts of removing point-of-sale tobacco displays in Ireland, implemented in July 2009.
Methods: Retailer compliance was assessed using audit surveys in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Using a monthly survey of 1000 adults carried out since 2002, changes in smoking prevalence were assessed; attitudes were measured using extra questions added for a 10-month period before and after the law. Youth responses were assessed using a cohort of 180 13-15 year olds, interviewed in June and August 2009.
Results: Immediately following implementation, compliance was 97%. Support for the law increased among adults after implementation (58% Apr-Jun vs 66% Jul-Dec, p<0.001). Recall of displays decreased significantly for adults (49% to 22%; p<0.001), more so among teenagers (81% to 22%; p<0.001). There were no significant short-term changes in prevalence among youths or adults. The proportion of youths believing more than a fifth of children their age smoked decreased from 62% to 46%, p<0.001). Post-legislation, 14% of adult smokers thought the law had made it easier to quit smoking and 38% of teenagers thought it would make it easier for children not to smoke.
Conclusions: Compliance was very high and the law was well supported. Recall of displays dropped significantly among adults and teenagers post-legislation and there were encouraging signs that the law helped de-normalise smoking.