Exposure to point-of-sale displays and changes in susceptibility to smoking: findings from a cohort study of school students

Addiction. 2015 Apr;110(4):693-702. doi: 10.1111/add.12826. Epub 2015 Jan 20.


Aims: To investigate the association between frequency of visiting shops and noticing of tobacco point-of-sale (PoS) displays and the development of susceptibility to smoking, or smoking uptake, in secondary school students.

Design: Two surveys of a school based cohort study carried out in 2011 and 2012.

Settings: Nottinghamshire, UK.

Participants: A total of 2270 children aged 11-16 years from eight schools in Nottinghamshire.

Measurements: We investigated changes in susceptibility to smoking and smoking status in relation to frequency of visiting shops and noticing PoS displays and number of tobacco brands recognized, controlling for a range of potential confounders. Susceptibility to smoking was defined using a set of three questions covering intentions to try smoking, to smoke within the next year and likelihood of smoking if a best friend offered a cigarette. For the analysis we used multinomial logistic regression.

Findings: Among non-susceptible never smokers, noticing PoS displays more frequently was associated independently with an increased risk of becoming susceptible to smoking [adjusted relative risk ratio (RRR) = 1.74; 99% confidence interval (CI) = 1.13-2.69], but was not associated with smoking uptake. Recognizing a higher number of brands among non-susceptible never smokers doubled the risk of becoming susceptible to smoking and of becoming a smoker, but this did not have a significant effect on transition to smoking among susceptible never smokers. Frequency of noticing tobacco PoS displays was not associated significantly with smoking uptake among those who were susceptible never smokers at baseline.

Conclusions: Noticing tobacco point-of-sale displays more often and recognizing a higher number of tobacco brands is associated with an increased risk of becoming susceptible to smoking among adolescents in the United Kingdom, and recognizing a higher number of brands is associated positively with an increased risk of smoking uptake.

Keywords: Point-of-sale displays; smoking; smoking uptake; susceptibility; tobacco; youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Commerce*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marketing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Social Environment
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Products*
  • United Kingdom