General policy statement
Tobacco displays at point of sale raise consumer awareness, motivate impulse purchases, increase susceptibility to smoking in youth, undermine smokers’ attempts to quit, and promote relapse amongst ex-smokers.
The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 (the principal Act) to ban the display of tobacco products and smoking accessories at the points of sale. The main rationale for the ban is to protect children and young people from being influenced by tobacco imagery and becoming users of tobacco products.
Tobacco promotion increases the likelihood that adolescents will start smoking. The younger a person begins smoking, the greater likelihood of getting lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases. As nicotine is highly addictive, only around half of all smokers manage to stop smoking before they die.
Tobacco sale display bans have already been implemented in Iceland, Thailand, and 10 of the 13 provinces in Canada. Tasmania and Ireland have also adopted legislation that is soon to come into effect. Studies undertaken in some jurisdictions that have enforced point of sale display bans have seen a decrease in smoking prevalence among young people.
Since the implementation of the ban on other forms of tobacco advertising and promotion in New Zealand, contained in the principal Act and its subsequent amendments, tobacco companies are now more reliant on tobacco displays to attract consumers to their product and to boost sales. The main purpose of this marketing is to attract new smokers since established smokers tend to be brand loyal.
Tobacco products usually occupy the most prominent display areas in stores. Such display areas are highly visible to children. Studies have demonstrated that children are most likely to remember product brands and think that the products are easy to purchase. The location of tobacco displays alongside everyday items such as confectionary and magazines also undermines the impact of health warnings, and allows tobacco products to continue to be viewed as a normal consumer product.
To ensure consistency, the Bill seeks to restrict advertising on automatic vending machines that stock tobacco products so that such products may not be visible before purchase. In addition, all smoking accessories must also be removed from visual display, with the exception of lighters and matches (which have a more widespread use beyond association with tobacco use).