Introduction: This study aimed to evaluate compliance with legislation which restricted cigarette displays in retail outlets, and to assess prevalence of pro- and anti-tobacco elements in stores pre- and post-legislation. METHODS Three audits of 302 stores in Melbourne, Australia by trained observers who gathered information on point-of-sale tobacco displays 2-3 months before and 3-4 and 11-12 months after the enactment of new restrictions.
Results: Between the first and second audits, nine stores stopped selling tobacco and three stores had either shut down or were closed for renovations. Of the remaining 290 stores, 94.1% observed the full ban on cigarette package visibility, while new restrictions on price board size and new requirements for graphic health warnings were followed in 85.9% and 67.2% of stores, respectively. Between the second and third audits, another seven stores ended tobacco sales and two stores closed. In Audit 3, 89.7% of the remaining 281 stores complied with price board restrictions, and 82.2% of stores followed requirements for graphic health warnings. Overall, the prevalence of anti-tobacco signage increased and pro-tobacco features decreased between audits for every store type and neighborhood socio-economic status.
Conclusions: Tobacco retailers were almost universally compliant with placing cigarettes out of sight and a substantial majority were compliant with regulations on price board size and display of graphic health warnings, demonstrating that such legislation can be implemented successfully.