Teenagers may buy less cigarettes when displays are hidden

A new research carried out using a virtual reality game indicates teenagers may be less supposed to buy smokes at shops if cigarettes are not marketed in plain view behind the table.


Tobacco Display

Display of tobacco products

Demanding shops to hide cigarette displays is one alternative some states believe to reduce teenage smoking after the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 was approved, as outlined by the research’s main author.

Annice Kim, from the research institute RTI International in Research Triangle Park, and her team planned to analyze the results of covering up such smoke displays on teenage shopping. But the analysts couldn’t carry out a real-world test because as of yet, no states have prohibited the cigarette displays.

So they created a virtual reality game and sent more than 1,200 youth, aged between 13-17, to an unreal online shop. Analysts asked the people to choose 4 items in the shop: a snack from the aisles, a drink from the coolers and 2 products from the checkout counter.

In some situations, the cabinet behind the counter obviously displayed cigarettes, while other teenagers saw the cabinet closed and the display covered up.

Any teenagers that asked the seller for cigarettes were declined due to age – but what the analyst were thinking about was how many asked.

According to other modifications they made to the online shops, the analysts determined that 16 to 24% of teenagers tried to buy cigarettes when the display was open, in comparison with 9 to 11% when it was closed.

In a post-virtual shopping review, whether cigarettes were openly displayed wasn’t obviously linked with teenagers’ perceptions of how easy it would be to buy cigarettes if a similar shop existed in their neighborhood.

Nevertheless, 32% of teenagers said that they were informed cigarettes were offered for sale when the display case was closed in their online shop, in comparison with 85% of those who had the open version, in accordance with results.

Dr. Michael Siegel, from the Boston University School of Public Health said: “It can’t be extrapolated into real life, as in real life teenagers would go to a shop when they want to buy tobacco products“.

Rather, he stated, prohibiting the displays could help reduce teenagers from being exposed to advertising by tobacco firms and affected in their attitudes toward smoking.

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