Introduction: We examined the potential impact of banning tobacco displays and mandating plain packaging and cigarette advertisements at the point of sale (POS) on adult outcomes.
Methods: A virtual convenience store was created with scenarios in which the tobacco product display was either fully visible (status quo) or enclosed behind a cabinet (display ban), and cigarette packs and advertisements were either in full color (status quo) or black and white, text only (plain). A national convenience sample of 1313 adult current smokers and recent quitters was randomized to 1 of 4 conditions and given a shopping task to complete in the virtual store. Main outcomes were participants' self-reported urge to smoke and tobacco purchase attempts in the virtual store.
Results: Compared with recent quitters in the status quo conditions, recent quitters in the display ban condition had lower urges to smoke (β=-4.82, 95% CI=-8.16--1.49, p<0.01). Compared with current smokers in the status quo conditions, smokers in the display ban conditions were less likely to attempt to purchase cigarettes in the virtual store (OR=0.05, 95% CI=0.03-0.08, P<0.01). Smokers exposed to plain packs and ads were significantly less likely to attempt to purchase cigarettes (OR=0.31, 95% CI=0.20-0.47, P<0.01) than those exposed to color packs and ads.
Conclusions: Policies that ban the display of tobacco products or require plain packaging and advertising at the POS may help reduce adult smoking.
Keywords: Plain cigarette packaging; Point-of-sale tobacco product displays; Virtual convenience store.
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