Teens are more attracted to branding than cigarettes
A ban on the display of cigarettes in the UK led to a drop in youth who smoke
When it comes to young people and smoking, it really is a case of monkey see, monkey do.
UK research shows that banning the open display of cigarettes in shops has helped cut down on the number of youth who smoke.
In 1999, when cigarette advertising and open displays in stores was legal, children in the UK could rattle off the names of three cigarette brands.
In 2014, all UK corner cafes and small stores were banned from displaying cigarettes at points of sale. It led to a drop in brand awareness, with children only being able to name on average 0.69 brands per young person.According to research by Scotland’s University of Stirling, the drop in awareness has made smoking less appealing and less popular to UK teenagers – and they are therefore less likely to take up the habit.
The research was presented on Wednesday by Scottish researcher Allison Ford at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town.
The conference is organised every three years to bring together governments and scientists who work to end smoking.In the UK, it is mandatory that supermarkets and cafes have shutters covering cigarette displays. Cashiers need to lift up the cover if a person wants to buy a pack.
While similar legislation was gazetted in South Africa in 2012 by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, it has never been implemented.
Motsoaledi was also at the conference on Wednesday, where he promised to introduce stricter anti-smoking legislation in South Africa, saying he wanted cigarettes sold in plain packaging and no smoking in public allowed.Ford said: “Marketing impacts young people the most. If you can’t name brands, it means you’re less aware of the product.”
In 2011, the university asked youngsters aged 11 to 16 to tell them what cigarette brands they knew of. The number of brands known on average was 0.97% per person interviewed – down from three in 1999.
In 2012, large supermarket chains were forced to put cigarettes behind shutters, but smaller stores were exempt from this law.
Young people’s awareness of cigarette brands dropped to an average of 0.86 brands per person.
In 2014, all UK corner cafes and small stores had to comply with the ban, with brand awareness dropping to 0.69 cigarette brands per young person.“Marketing restrictions are all about limiting the positive imagery linked to cigarettes that young people are susceptible to. They are no longer exposed to that,” Ford said.
Tobacco control advocate Peter Ucko, from the SA Central Drug Authority, said there was evidence that a drop in tobacco advertising and brand awareness was linked to a drop in smoking rates.
It was also “common sense if people or teenagers can’t identify with a brand, they are less likely to want it”.
“Packaging is an advertisement. If you can’t see it, you can’t be advertised to”.
About 17% of South Africans smoke, according to Human Sciences Research Council, down from 30% in the late 1990s.