Introduction: The Netherlands aims to implement stricter tobacco control policies targeting the retail environment. This paper is an ex ante policy evaluation of the potential impact of the current tobacco display and advertising ban as well as future tobacco sales bans on tobacco outlet visibility and availability.
Methods: Between September 2019 and June 2020, all potential tobacco retailers in four Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Haarlem and Zwolle) were visited and mapped using Global Positioning System. For each retailer selling tobacco, we completed a checklist on the visibility of tobacco products and advertising. Expected reductions in tobacco outlet visibility and availability were calculated per policy measure in absolute numbers (percentage or percentage point decrease) as well as density and proximity.
Results: Out of 870 tobacco outlets, 690 were identified with visible tobacco products/advertising. The display ban in supermarkets and small outlets (respectively) is expected to decrease the number (-15; -42 percentage points), outlet density per 10 000 capita (-0.9; -2.6) and proximity in metres (+27 m; +400 m) of outlets with visible products/advertising. The upcoming bans on vending machines and sales in supermarkets are expected to decrease the number (-12%; -31%), density (-0.7; -1.9) and proximity (+12 m; +68 m) of tobacco outlets. Further changes in the number, density and proximity (respectively) of tobacco outlets may be achieved with future sales bans in petrol stations (-7%; -0.4; +60 m) and particularly with a ban on sales in small outlets (-43%; -2.7; +970 m).
Conclusion: A display ban and a sales ban in small outlets will contribute most to reducing tobacco outlet visibility and availability, assuming that no market shift towards other tobacco outlets will take place.
Keywords: advertising and promotion; environment; public policy.
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