Published: 17 August 2015
Authors: Robertson, L., Marsh, L., Hoek, J., McGee, R., & Egan, R.
Background: In contrast to the sale of alcohol and other psychoactive substances, the retail availability of tobacco in New Zealand (NZ) is relatively unregulated. Tobacco is almost universally available, and the absence of a licensing scheme for tobacco retailers makes enforcement of retail-level legislation challenging. As a key stakeholder group, the views of tobacco retailers are likely to influence the tobacco retail policies that gain political support. We explored NZ tobacco retailers’ views towards mandatory licensing of tobacco retailers, and how they perceived policies that would reduce tobacco availability.
Methods: We conducted face-to-face interviews with tobacco retail store owners and managers throughout NZ (n = 21). A semi-structured interview guide was used, and interviews explored participants’ views of existing tobacco retail policies, the NZ government’s goal of becoming a smokefree country by 2025, possible future policies, such as licensing of tobacco retailers, and perceptions of selling tobacco. Qualitative content analysis was conducted using the interview transcripts as the data source.
Results: The tobacco retailers interviewed expressed varying views on how tobacco sales should be regulated. Around half of the study participants were positive or indifferent about mandatory retailer licensing, and several believed licensing would not have a large impact on them. The idea of restricting the sale of tobacco within 500 m of a school was generally well received by participants, and had more support than policies that would prohibit certain outlet types from selling tobacco.
Conclusion: In contrast to claims made by industry-related organisations, a proposed licensing policy is unlikely to be met with blanket opposition from tobacco retailers. Advocacy efforts may garner more support for tobacco retail policies if the purpose of policies was framed in terms of protecting young people from smoking
A positive licensing scheme could increase compliance with existing smokefree legislation.
The existing evidence supports a positive association between exposure to POS tobacco promotion and smoking. This review provides evidence to support the continuation of POS tobacco display bans in those jurisdictions where such legislation has been introduced and strengthens the evidence encouraging similar policies in jurisdictions without a POS display ban.
Children and adolescents more frequently exposed to POS tobacco promotion have around 1.6 times higher odds of having tried smoking and around 1.3 times higher odds of being susceptible to future smoking, compared with those less frequently exposed. Together with the available evaluations of POS display bans, the results strongly indicate that legislation banning tobacco POS promotion will effectively reduce smoking among young people.