Ban all cigarette signs: experts

Health experts want the State Government to ban all cigarette promotion in WA shops, even generic price-boards.

Their call comes after research suggested the number of smokers buying cigarettes on the spur of the moment in WA had dropped by a third since the introduction of a partial ban on shop displays.

Since September 2010, all tobacco products sold in WA have been removed from sight, with retailers only able to have a board listing brand names and prices in a standard format.

The study by Curtin and Edith Cowan universities, published in the journal Tobacco Control, found the sight of cigarette packs enticed smokers to buy, particularly those aged under 25, despite the tobacco industry claiming it only influenced their choice of brand.

Researchers interviewed more than 400 smokers as they left Perth supermarkets after buying cigarettes, with half interviewed before the bans came in and the other half quizzed after.

Customers were asked if they had intended to buy cigarettes before they went in the shop, to gauge if seeing cigarette packs on display made them more likely to buy on the spur of the moment.

The study found the number of spontaneous buyers fell from 28 per cent before the bans to 19 per cent when cigarettes were out of sight.

Heart Foundation WA chief executive Maurice Swanson said the research confirmed the importance of stopping the tobacco industry from advertising at point-of-sale.

"This is particularly important for young people, and this is another example of how WA used to lead the way in reducing smoking," he said.

Australian Council on Smoking and Health president Mike Daube said the findings showed even partial point-of-sale bans had a significant impact on smokers. But Professor Daube said there was complacency about smoking, which still caused 1200 deaths in WA each year.

He called on Health Minister Kim Hames to bring in a complete point-of-sale ban, with an end to big price-boards that promoted cigarette brands

Dr Hames said the Government was considering restrictions around price-boards as part of a range of tobacco control measures.

The West Australian

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