Vendor Compliance with Ontario's Tobacco Point of Sale Legislation

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Objective: On May 31, 2006, Ontario joined a small group of international jurisdictions to implement legislative restrictions on tobacco point of sale promotions. This study compares the presence of point of sale promotions in the retail tobacco environment from three surveys: one prior to and two following implementation of the legislation.

Method: Approximately 1,575 tobacco vendors were randomly selected for each survey. Each regionally-stratified sample included equal numbers of tobacco vendors categorized into four trade classes: chain convenience, independent convenience and discount, gas stations, and grocery. Data regarding the six restricted point of sale promotions were collected using standardized protocols and inspection forms. Weighted estimates and 95% confidence intervals were produced at the provincial, regional and vendor trade class level using the bootstrap method for estimating variance.

Results: At baseline, the proportion of tobacco vendors who did not engage in each of the six restricted point of sale promotions ranged from 41% to 88%. Within four months following implementation of the legislation, compliance with each of the six restricted point of sale promotions exceeded 95%. Similar levels of compliance were observed one year later. Grocery stores had the fewest point of sale promotions displayed at baseline. Compliance rates did not differ across vendor trade classes at either follow-up survey. Point of sale promotions did not differ across regions in any of the three surveys.

Conclusion: Within a short period of time, a high level of compliance with six restricted point of sale promotions was achieved.

Key words: Tobacco; marketing; compliance

La traduction du résumé se trouve à la fin de l'article. Can J Public Health 2009;100(2):109-12.

Mots clés : tabac; commercialisation; conformité

Point of sale promotion of tobacco products constitutes an important pillar in tobacco industry marketing efforts. Severe restrictions on other forms of public advertising for tobacco products increase the importance of in-store promotions. Aggressive point of sale advertising includes power walls (i.e., cigarette displays that exhibit cigarette brand associated colours, threedimensional displays and promotional lighting), countertop displays and signs advertising tobacco products. In 2006, the tobacco industry spent $107 million on point of sale promotions in Canada, including $40 million in Ontario alone.1 A study conducted in California estimated that, on average, there were 17.2 cigarette advertisements and promotional materials in each of the surveyed tobacco vendors.2 Moreover, significantly more cigarette marketing has been observed in retail environments where adolescents frequently shop, particularly for cigarette brands that are popular among adolescents,3 and in stores within 1000 feet of a school.4

A number of recent studies address the effects of retail cigarette advertising on youth. Cigarette advertisements at point of sale have been shown to increase brand user imagery in a positive direction among adolescents.5 Another study found that the prominence of cigarettes at point of sale increased adolescents' perceptions about the ease of illegally purchasing cigarettes, while the combined presence of cigarettes and advertising at point of sale decreased their perception of being asked for proof of age.6 Frequent exposure to retail cigarette marketing has been found to significantly increase the odds of smoking susceptibility7 and ever smoking among adolescents. 7,8 Furthermore, cigarette promotions have been associated with influencing youth who were already experimenting with cigarettes to progress to regular smoking, and established smokers being most influenced by promotional offers.9

Despite the apparent detrimental effects of point of sale promotions in promoting cigarette smoking, few jurisdictions have implemented legislation that bans or restricts tobacco point of sale promotions. …