Background: Tobacco point of sale (POS) retail displays are banned in many countries, including in England, due in part to evidence linking them to greater susceptibility to smoking in children. There is no equivalent ban on displays of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or smoking paraphernalia (eg, cigarette lighters) in England, which are often positioned alongside covered tobacco storage units. This observational study describes the visibility and placement of e-cigarette and smoking paraphernalia POS displays in major tobacco retailers in two cities in England to inform future research examining their possible links to susceptibility to tobacco smoking, particularly in children.
Methods: Researchers visited all small- and large-format stores of four supermarket chains and a randomly selected sample of convenience stores, in Bristol and Cambridge. A standardised checklist was used to create a total visibility score for POS displays of (a) e-cigarettes and (b) smoking paraphernalia, plus other measures of visibility and placement. These were described for the total sample and compared between areas of low, medium, and high deprivation using general linear models adjusting for store location and store type.
Results: The visibility checklist was completed in 133 of 166 stores (80% completion rate). Both e-cigarette and smoking paraphernalia POS displays were present in 96% of stores. POS displays were highly visible across all stores: mean (SD) total visibility scores, out of 17, were 14.7 (1.8) for e-cigarettes and 12.7 (1.8) for smoking paraphernalia. There was no clear evidence of differences in visibility by area of deprivation.
Conclusion: E-cigarette and smoking paraphernalia POS displays are near ubiquitous and highly visible in major tobacco retailers in two cities in England. The impact of these displays on tobacco smoking in children and adults is unknown, meriting urgent research to assess their effect on susceptibility to tobacco smoking in children.
Keywords: advertising and promotion; electronic nicotine delivery devices; environment; socioeconomic status.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.