Background: In England, point-of-sale (PoS) displays in larger shops were prohibited in April 2012, with an exemption for smaller retailers until 2015. The aim of this study was to examine the association between tobacco displays and brand communication at the PoS and adolescent smoking behaviour, and to assess the potential benefits likely to accrue from this legislation.
Methods: Self-completion questionnaire survey in students aged 11-15 years in March 2011.
Results: The odds of ever-smoking doubled for those visiting shops almost daily relative to less than once a week (OR 2.23, 95% CI 1.40 to 3.55), and susceptibility increased by around 60% (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.25 to 2.10). Noticing tobacco on display every time during store visits increased the odds of susceptibility more than threefold compared with never noticing tobacco (OR 3.15, 95% CI 1.52 to 6.54). For each additional tobacco brand recognised at the PoS, the adjusted odds of being an ever-smoker increased by 5% (OR 1.05, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.06) and of susceptibility by 4% (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.05). The association between frequency of visiting stores and susceptibility was predominantly due to exposure in small shops.
Conclusions: Exposure to and awareness of PoS displays and brands in displays were associated with smoking susceptibility. The association between PoS display exposure and smoking susceptibility was predominantly due to exposure in small shops. These findings suggest that a one-off, comprehensive tobacco display ban is the recommended approach for countries considering a display ban.
Keywords: Advertising and Promotion; Prevention; Tobacco industry.